The energy industry has historically been male dominated, but in recent years, there has been a notable increase in the number of women working in the sector. Despite this progress, women still make up a relatively small percentage of the workforce, accounting for only 22% in oil and gas and 32% in renewable energy, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The numbers for management levels are even lower.
The Importance of Gender Diversity
This underrepresentation can be attributed to various factors, including unconscious bias, lack of female role models, and limited diversity in recruitment processes. Countries in the European Union are transitioning ambitiously to clean and renewable energy and will require innovative solutions and new business models. Greater participation from a diverse talent pool for both jobs and decision-making will be essential for success.
BeFlexible project is committed to challenging gender stereotypes and promoting diversity, with a strong representation of women in the project. Of the 138 people involved in the consortium from different countries, 60% are men and 40% are women, making it a significantly more diverse group than the energy sector as a whole. Regarding leadership, from 9 work packages, 6 are led by women and 3 are led by men.
Moreover, BeFlexible has taken a significant step towards ensuring gender-inclusive practices by creating a Gender Action Plan (Deliverable 9.5). This plan aligns with the broader European strategy of promoting gender practices to achieve our equal transition goals. A Gender Action Plan is a crucial tool that promotes gender-inclusive design and implementation of practices and solutions while raising awareness of the Gender Equality strategy guidelines and objectives set by the European Union. With the implementation of this plan, the BeFlexible project can ensure that gender perspectives are integrated into every aspect of the project development, making it more equitable and inclusive.
Supporting Women in Energy
On the International Women Day, we want to recognize the significance of inspiring girls and women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and to work towards removing any barriers to participation.
The energy industry is taking steps to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, including initiatives to attract and retain more women in the sector, mentoring and leadership programs, and promoting flexible working arrangements. The European Commission has launched several initiatives to improve gender balance in the energy sector, such as the Equality platform for the energy sector. The platform aims at strengthening the commitment to equality in all its dimensions, notably by promoting workplaces that are more diverse and inclusive. It functions as a forum to discuss equality-related issues and share concrete actions that contribute to achieving equality in the energy sector.
Furthermore, Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE) and Women in Energy (WONY) are two non-profit associations that support the education, professional development, and advancement of women in the energy sector. These initiatives seek to foster professionalism, integrity, ethics, inclusion, diversity, and growth and development of the next generation of women leaders, executives, and professionals in the energy industry.
Benefits of Diversity
Increasing diversity in the workplace not only creates a more equitable and inclusive environment but also brings different perspectives, experiences, and skills to the workforce. Women in energy are making significant contributions to the sector, and it is important that the industry continues to support and empower them to reach their full potential. With initiatives and organizations promoting gender diversity and inclusion, the energy sector can be more sustainable and successful in the future.