Has renewable energy promoted inclusion and gender balance?

November 29, 2022

Female solar energy staffing

Source: Shutterstock/VAKS-Stock Agency

Countries and industries are on a journey that brings profound structural changes, impacting economies and societies to boost net-zero carbon emissions.

The number of jobs in the energy sector could rise from 12.7 million in 2021 to 139 million in 2030, including 38.2 million workers in the renewable energy industry. This will involve more than 74 million in energy efficiency, electric vehicles, power systems/flexibility and hydrogen under the 1.5°C Scenario.

This is an ambitious move within the energy transition scenario with front-loaded investments needed to achieve the 1.5°C Paris Agreement.

Partner with our green recruitment company to find top talent for your  renewable energy projects.

Under a Planned Energy Scenario (PES) – based on current policies and plans – the global economy creates fewer jobs (106 million energy jobs, 17.4 million renewable energy jobs, and 45.8 million energy efficiency, electric vehicles, power systems/flexibility and hydrogen jobs) than the 1.5°C Scenario.

But is the ongoing global energy transition offering equal opportunities and gender balance?

The workforce plays a central role in meeting the continued acceleration of the clean energy generation. The industry has made advances in workforce gender equity, with women accounting for one-third of them today.

However, we are at an unprecedented moment to reshape all aspects of how energy is produced and distributed. The industry has the chance to build a more just workforce, and this is what society expects.

A recent report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) revealed that the solar industry is the largest employer within renewable energy sources, accounting for some 4.3 million jobs in 2021 – one-third of all renewable energy jobs.

The share of women working in full-time positions in the solar PV industry is 40 per cent. This is almost double the share in the wind energy (21 per cent) and the oil and gas sector (22 per cent). Solar power also compares well with the 32 per cent share across the entire renewable energy landscape.

Gender Perspective-Women in oil and gas-renewable overall-wind-solar PV

Female solar jobs in demand

  • Administrative jobs account for 58 per cent of the workforce.
  • Lawyers or procurement experts represent 38 per cent of the employment.
  • The share in STEM positions (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is 32 per cent.
  • Non-technical positions (e.g. marketing, sales, distribution, and product assembly and installation) account for 35 per cent.

Solar PV manufacturing does best in employing women, with a 47 per cent share. Service providers and developers follow with 39 per cent and 37 per cent, respectively. It is harder for women to find a job as a solar PV installer, an activity in which women account for barely 12 per cent of the total.

Jordan Mason, Contract Recruitment Manager at Airswift, said:

This provides an excellent opportunity for other renewable sectors, such as wind, to follow suit and place more of an emphasis on narrowing the gender gap. Historically, roles within the energy sectors have been male dominated but this is evidently fast changing, and many employers across the globe are stepping up to the challenge of gender disparity.

The shift towards clean energy and efforts to tackle climate change hinges on several key factors, such as the greater inclusion of women in developing the technical solutions required.

Sandrine Dixson-Declève, co-president of the Club of Rome and thought leader in climate, energy and sustainable development, believes that:
With the complexity and challenges of the 21st-century problems, we need diverse thinkers and diverse leaders. We cannot do it with just a male perception of the world.

Renewable Energy Employment by Regions

Want more insight into talent trends in the renewable energy industry? Click the link below to download our latest whitepaper.

Green Tech Talent Required to Boost Net Zero

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Here at Airswift, we partner with companies around the world that are making it their mission to reduce carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency in their operations. 

We are also committed to supporting the gender balance and building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce by investing and training a team focused on renewable energy resources, like hydropower, bioenergy, offshore wind, onshore wind, green hydrogen, geothermal energy and solar energy

See below some of the statistics about gender equality from our 2022 Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) report:

  • 62% of our employees are female
  • 50% of managers are female
  • 50% of our Operating Board
    are female

One way for other sectors to improve their gender equality would be through introducing more family-friendly working practices, with Airswift’s annual GETI survey indicating how changing ways of working is the third biggest opportunity for the renewables sector over the next three years. As we continue to work remotely and the workplace becomes increasingly digitalized, there will also be further opportunities for primary caregivers to remain actively involved in work that used to require an onsite presence, such as engineering or budgeting of a site. These changes will allow more women to enter, and remain long-term, in the STEM industries, leading to a more inclusive energy transition from every point of view.

With over 60 offices worldwide, 1,000 employees, and 9,000 contractors, Airswift has successfully placed professionals across a wide range of disciplines. Our dedicated renewable energy recruiters can support clients throughout the full project lifecycle from design to construction, and connect the right talent to the most significant energy projects.

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This post was written by: Nana Terra, Content Marketing Coordinator