3 Key Facts on the Participation of Women in Renewable Energy

March 8, 2019 | 12:42 pm
En la conferencia ANDREC con líderes de la industria de energía renovable en Latinoamérica y el Caribe
Paula Garcia
Senior Bilingual Energy Analyst and Energy Justice Lead

Lea en español >  

The International Women´s Day commemorates efforts to promote the equitable participation of women in society. Even though this celebration started in some countries in Europe in 1910, it was not institutionalized until 1975 by the United Nations (UN).

It has been more than a century after its first celebration and almost half a century after the UN invited states to declare the International Day of Women’s Rights. So, what progress have women made in the renewable energy industry?

Here I share 3 key facts:Women represent 32% of the global renewable energy workforce

Women representation in traditional energy, renewable energy and global workforce

Globally, the renewable energy industry has more women representation (32%) than traditional energy industries like oil and gas (22%). However, this figure is considerably lower than the women’s participation in the global labor market (48%).

In the case of US solar, 28% of the industry’s workforce was female in 2016, compared to 2018, where the participation of about 64 thousand women was equivalent to 26% of the workforce. The numbers show us that there is a weak representation of women in the solar workforce.

Women represent 28% of the roles in STEM in the renewable energy industry worldwide

Shares of Women in STEM, non-STEM and administrative jobs in renewable energy

Women representation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields in the renewable energy industry is only 28%, compared to 45% in administrative roles. This shows a clear imbalance in the participation of women in the value chain of the renewable energy industry.

A recent McKinsey survey conducted in the US showed that the higher up the corporate ladder, the fewer women you find. 48% of entry level positions were represented by women, going down to 39% to 34% in management roles, 30% for vice presidential positions, and just 23% for executive-suite roles.

The renewable industry should promote the participation of women in leadership positions in order to enjoy the benefits offered by a diverse workforce. They include new perspectives, better financial returns, better understanding of customers, and improvements in the work environment.

More than 70% of women perceive a gender wage gap in the renewable industry globally

Beliefs about pay equity among women and men.

A recent survey led by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) that included more than 1,500 participants from 144 countries found that 71% of women perceive payment inequities among women and men. In comparison, just 38% of men perceive such inequity. Studies confirm this perception.

Research on the participation of women in Germany’s solar workforce identified that women continue earning less money than their male counterparts.

Ingresos de al menos $75/Hr por género y raza

Similar situations are reported in the US solar worksforce. In 2017, just 1 in 5 white women (20%) and almost 1 in 20 women of color (4%) reported earning wages of at least $75 per hour. In comparison, 1 in 3 white men reported earning this hourly wage.

Greater transparency with respect to salary scales and professional careers within organizations is a vital step to achieve equity in payments, salary increases, bonuses and promotions.

Renewables: a growing industry that needs to integrate a diverse workforce

In commemoration of International Women’s Day, these numbers serve as a reminder of efforts that began more than 100 years ago to ensure women’s participation under equitable conditions, and the work that is still ahead in the renewable energy industry.

The industry had a global workforce of more than 10 million workers and by 2050 this number is expected to triple. It is essential that this growth comes hand-in-hand with inclusive practices that reflect in the workforce the communities that the industry serves. This will undoubtedly contribute to advancing not only the rights of women and other diverse groups, but will also yield better performance for companies, thanks to highly competitive, committed, and motivated teams.

About the author

More from Paula

Paula García is a senior bilingual energy analyst and energy justice lead in the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. She evaluates energy resource and climate solutions in the electricity sector and works to further public understanding of clean energy technologies, policies and markets. Paula is committed to advance energy justice and sustainable development through her work.