How do we close the energy sector gender gap?

By Virginia Snyder, Energy Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank

As the global power sector becomes cleaner and more technologically advanced, there is one critical area which lags: diversity and gender equality. 

Globally, women represent only 20 percent of the energy sector workforce.  Across Latin America and the Caribbean, women account for only 17 percent of senior leadership positions and 9 percent of executive positions, according to the Ernst & Young Women in Power and Utility Index. While these numbers are increasing, growth is snail-paced.

Notwithstanding, there is a new momentum to increase these numbers. There is a groundswell of support through networking groups that dot the energy industry. In the Caribbean, the Women in Renewable Energy (WIRE) group provides mentoring and training for women to enter the sector and advance to leadership positions. In Central America, the Global Women’s Network for the Energy Transition (GWNET) recently held its first meeting to begin a conversation to drive the change needed in the region to create a new, inclusive energy sector. 

Still, the reality of the gender gap is disheartening. Where does the industry go from here? What can be done to make changes to this lag in equality? Among several institutions driving the gender agenda, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) regard this as a critical development issue.

We believe that, as we make the transition to cleaner and more technologically advanced systems, diversity in approaches is critical to driving the inclusive solutions we need to navigate change. If private and public sectors are truly committed to economic and social transformation, they need to come to the table to ensure women are equally represented across the energy value chain.

On November 13th, at IDB headquarters in Washington D.C., we will be convening the market to do just that: come to the table. We will be gathering leaders – women and men alike – to explore the causes of the gender gap and assess what can be done to accelerate the participation of women in the rapidly modernizing energy sector.

This is an invitation-only event but if you have a perspective we want to hear from you. Please submit an application to attend here: The Gender and Energy Forum for Latin America and the Caribbean: The Balance of Power.