The energy sector and its effort to shift to renewable sources of supply play a major role in the European Green Deal from an environmental and economic perspective. About 1.6 million Europeans work in the energy field. However, it is one of the most unequal sectors when it comes to gender balance and gender equality. Available evidence shows that women are severely underrepresented, with not only lower share of female compared to male employees, but also with roles that involve lower responsibility and decision-making power. Because of the major importance of the energy transition, it is essential that women are fairly represented in all key decision-making in this area. It is also expected that the emerging shortage of professionals for filling the many new positions in renewables, hydrogen and batteries can only be tackled if more women are attracted to careers in the sector. A lack of gender balance in the sector is also worrying as companies have been found to perform better across a wide range of KPIs if women are equally represented at senior executive level.
The combination of two trends offers hope for change: We can observe (1) a higher proportion of women in the renewable energy sector compared to the conventional energy sector and (2) a growing interest in climate issues, especially among young people. While a further boost to the share of women across the entire energy skills pipeline is needed, a gender balance in the energy transition could be achieved in the EU with the right policies, education system, and industry actions.
Therefore, we are now leading a new study, commissioned by the European Commission’s Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA), to analyse the size and nature of this challenge and to identify success factors for effective interventions across 35 countries – the EU27 plus 4 other European countries as well as Australia, Canada, Turkey, and the US.
In an in-depth analysis, we will review the impact of gender imbalances on the energy sector, specifically its effect on the capability of the EU to design and lead the energy transition in ways which are not only effective, but also socially and economically sustainable.
Our analysis is based on a robust, evidence-based understanding of the role of women in education & training, skills and employment in sectors related to the energy transition – both in the presence and the future.
In addition to identifying the key barriers and facilitators to achieving gender balance and to overcome these, we will analyse policy approaches and best practices in stakeholder initiatives from across all 35 countries and engage with a wide range of stakeholder representatives to validate findings and discuss the way forward.
As a result, we will derive a set of recommendations targeted at policy makers to guide policies on boosting R&I for the energy transition and increasing the role of women in the area, and to contribute to the new European Research Area (ERA) and targeted at industry and other key stakeholders (e.g., education system) to understand ways in which they can promote gender balance and thus contribute to meeting future skills needs in the context of the energy transition.
As the coordinator of the study, we will oversee the collection of primary data using interview surveys and qualitative assessment of the national status quo across all 35 countries.