Nuclear Power and Secure Energy Transitions: From Today's Challenges to Tomorrow's Clean Energy Systems

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Energy and gender

A critical issue in energy sector employment and energy access

The energy sector remains one of the least gender diverse sectors and closing this gender gap will be vital as women are key drivers of innovative and inclusive solutions. At the same time, women bear the brunt of lack of access to energy because the task of collecting firewood for cooking and heating often falls on them.

Key findings

Women in senior management roles by energy sector, 2019


Women hold more senior executive positions in the utility industries than elsewhere in the energy sector

Women make up only 13.9% of senior management within the energy and energy utilities composite, which is marginally lower than in the sample from non-energy industries at 15.5%.

Among the energy business lines, women in senior roles are better represented in the utilities sector at 17.1%, with electric utilities and independent power plants at the low end at 16.5%, followed by natural gas utilities at 18%. Multiline utilities are at the higher end of the distribution at 20.3%.

Excluding utilities, representation for all other energy-related business lines is far lower at an average 12.1%.

Percentage of female inventors in the energy (and control) technologies, 1978-2016


Women are listed in less than 11% of patent applications related to the energy sector

Female inventors are rising across different technological sectors, with the highest rates reported in the health and chemistry sectors. In the patent classes closely associated to the energy sector – combustion apparatus, engines, pumps and power – women are listed in less than 11% of applications, and over 15% for climate change mitigation technologies, which is comparable to the overall rate for technologies, including information and communication technologies.
Our work on energy and gender

Despite making up 48% of global labour force – women only account for 22% of the traditional energy sector. For management levels the numbers are even lower. The barriers women face in the energy sector are similar to those they face elsewhere in the economy. However, the challenges of the energy sector are more pressing since the sector is going through a process of transformation; clean energy transitions will require innovative solutions and business models to be adopted and greater participation from a diverse talent pool. 

At the IEA Ministerial meeting in December 2019, IEA Ministers adopted a communique that specifically endorsed increased IEA efforts to build up and share knowledge to help tackle issues related to future human capacity needs, including equal opportunities for women and men in the energy sector. Since then the IEA has been working on its strategy to deliver the mandate. Forthcoming IEA work includes data collection on the gender composition of corporate boards, as well as employment and the gender of inventors of energy technologies in the energy sector. The IEA is also Coordinator of C3E International Workstream 1 on gender data collection in the energy sector, supporting country lead Italy. 

The aim of the initiative is to elevate the IEA’s work on collecting knowledge and data related to gender, to develop policy recommendations to assist governments in their ambitions to improve gender-diversity in the energy sector. That includes collecting disaggregated gender and energy data related to areas such as employment, management, innovation, and financing to track progress and release periodic updates to decision-makers and developing policy recommendations for governments and industry.

The Clean Energy, Education and Empowerment Programme (C3E International) was created in 2010 as an initiative of the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) to enhance international collaboration and promote the leadership and participation of women in the clean energy transformation. In 2017, a decision was taken to organise the C3E International’s activities as an IEA Technology Collaboration Programme (TCP). This provides a strong foundation to the work and provides additional visibility to the C3E International’s work globally. As a TCP, C3E International joins a network of 6 000 experts participating in the Energy Technology Network (ETN), which engages in energy research and development, and can assist with the development of best practice sharing to support the goals of the programme. The 38 TCPs operating today involve nearly 300 public and private organisations in 53 countries.

At the IEA Ministerial 2019, Ministers from IEA countries endorsed IEA efforts to build up and share knowledge related to equal opportunities for women and men in the energy sector. Find out more about the C3E International and IEA countries concrete actions to support gender equality in the energy sector by checking out the short videos below.