The transition to sustainable energy presents an opportune moment for women's advancement, as renewable energy value chains seem to attract a higher percentage of women (32% of the total workforce) compared to the oil and gas industries (22% of the total workforce). Increasing women’s participation can prove also beneficial to the sector as a whole. Studies underscore the benefits of diversity in innovation and business success, including improved employee retention, financial performance, innovation, service delivery, and a safer operating environment.
Nevertheless, the energy sector lags in fostering gender diversity, compounded by a shortage of female STEM graduates, limiting the sector’s full innovative potential. A 2020 report found that in the Pacific, women’s participation in the sector is much lower than the global estimated trends; with the proportion of female staff working in national energy offices ranging between 8.7% in Fiji to 27.3% in Kiribati; while the proportion of women working for electricity utilities ranged from 5% in Tuvalu to 22.9% in Kiribati.
Within this context, a recently launched Pacific Women in Power (PWIP) Program in Vanuatu, signifies a crucial step towards addressing the gender imbalance in the energy sector by increasing increase women's employment as engineers, scientists, and leaders in the Pacific Island energy sector. In a region where less than a quarter of the STEM workforce is female, the program aims to gather data and invest in innovations, partnerships, and policies to elevate women's participation, particularly recognizing the underrepresentation of women in the upstream clean energy value chain. This integrates with the Pacific Energy and Gender Strategic Action Plan, advocating for women to fully benefit from the socio-economic advantages of the region's green energy transition. To bridge the gender gap in the clean energy value chain, there is a need to expand women's expertise in project planning and implementation, foster an inclusive work environment, establish mentoring programs and scholarships, raise awareness in universities, and support women entrepreneurs.
Read the full SEH Bulletin Issue 5.