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Women's Impact on Energy Efficiency

  • Written by Charlotte Venner
  • May 10, 2024
Woman looking at view of desert.

Women are rising higher and higher within the energy industry, tackling leadership roles and building their own businesses.[1] In a sector where women have historically been underrepresented, female-led organizations are now at the forefront of a national effort to transform and decarbonize our energy grid. Empowering women further within the energy and utility sector is crucial to tackling the climate crisis — and combatting inequalities in the process.

Empowering Women to Lead the Energy Revolution

Women in energy are already achieving results through more inclusive environments. Studies demonstrate that a workforce led by women in the energy sector can operate more smoothly and efficiently, addressing crucial issues effectively.

Women are shown to be more likely to address climate change and avoid environmental damage, within leadership in corporations, through policy as elected leaders, and in their own lives.[2][3][4][5] Women in leadership improve organizational success generally with their empathy, connection-building, and inclusiveness.[6] In fact, a 2019 study found that women exceed in leadership positions, particularly in resilience, taking initiative, self-development, integrity, and driving results.[7]

Part of this success comes through creating a healthy environment for talent to flourish. Women leaders are able to create a more comfortable, inclusive work environment for female colleagues to succeed in their roles. From hiring practices to office culture to mentorship, women leaders support and cultivate an atmosphere of female empowerment.

When women succeed, they pave the way for greater gender equity in their field. Women’s representation in energy leadership is increasing globally, especially in developed economies.[8] Advances in flexible working hours, equity policies, and hiring practices have helped facilitate women’s rising role within the energy sector, only further bolstered by the rise in women-led companies.[9] In 2023, women in U.S. and Canadian power and utility companies occupied 27% of board seats, held about 16% of C-suite positions, and made up 22% of executive positions.[10]

These shares of roles represent an improvement from the historic norm while also emphasizing the distance still to be covered. At a time when the energy market is transforming, diverse voices are key.

Closing the Gap

Despite the successes achieved by women in the energy sector, there’s still a gap to close. As of 2021, women accounted for only a quarter of workers in the energy sector relative to almost half of the workforce nationwide.[11]

For those women working in the sector, their experience often falls short compared to male colleagues. Women in the energy sector earn almost 20% less than male counterparts with equivalent qualifications.[12] Women also report feeling less supported in their career advancement and professional development, and less aware of career navigation support.[13] Climate change only compounds existing inequalities like these by creating greater physical and economic challenges for women (especially women of color.)

But women-led firms are working to close this gap. Inclusive hiring and career mentorship is allowing more women to flourish and ascend within the energy sector.

The Potential for a Brighter Future

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is opening up new avenues and incentives for the clean energy transition. Clean energy jobs are projected to grow substantially thanks to new federal funding, and women-led firms are optimally set up to develop a powerful, inclusive workforce.

The potential for better outcomes is tremendous — not just for the energy sector but for the lives of the talented, ambitious women who have historically been excluded from opportunities.  As climate change is exposing deep-rooted issues of inequality within society, women need to play a key role in transforming the energy sector into a cleaner, more diverse space. Seems like a lightbulb (LED) moment to us!