April 17, 2024

Empowering Women in Energy: Navigating Challenges and Opportunities

In recent years, the discussion on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles has elevated the importance of diversity and inclusion across industries globally. This heightened awareness has yielded numerous benefits, as companies have increasingly embraced diversity and inclusion in their recruitment and advancement strategies. Nevertheless, despite these strides, the challenges presented by the pandemic and ensuing economic turmoil have introduced setbacks, prompting shifts in priorities at both personal and organizational levels.

In recent years, the discussion on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles has elevated the importance of diversity and inclusion across industries globally. This heightened awareness has yielded numerous benefits, as companies have increasingly embraced diversity and inclusion in their recruitment and advancement strategies. Nevertheless, despite these strides, the challenges presented by the pandemic and ensuing economic turmoil have introduced setbacks, prompting shifts in priorities at both personal and organizational levels. While some women have opted to allocate more time to their families in the post-COVID era, companies have also been compelled to prioritize cost-cutting measures.

The energy sector stands out with its stark gender imbalance, where men often dominate with a ratio of at least 3:1 – and the percentage of female leaders declines the higher you go up the ladder. This is not surprising - fever women choose a technical career than men, and it is difficult to attract the most talented women to junior positions in the energy industry. This results in not having enough qualified woman in energy and therefore lacking talent to promote to senior management positions.

Nonetheless, it's crucial to acknowledge the importance of gender diversity in leadership. Studies consistently demonstrate that diverse leadership teams and boards perform better, both financially and operationally. Companies with more diverse board composition are more likely to outperform others financially and gender diversity is proven to make firms more innovative and productive. With varied backgrounds and experiences, diverse teams offer a broader perspective on problem-solving and decision-making. Moreover, fostering diversity enhances overall job satisfaction.

Achieving gender diversity in the energy sector remains a formidable task. A recent IEA 2023 World Energy Employment report shows that women make up only 16% of the traditional energy sector which is just one fifth and below the 40% average in the global workforce.

To address this issue, efforts must begin at the grassroots level by encouraging more women to pursue technical disciplines. These efforts should start already in the classroom, encouraging women to pursue energy jobs.

Strong role models play a pivotal role in inspiring the next generation, demonstrating that careers in energy are not exclusively reserved for men. Today, women in energy may still encounter challenges in accessing mentorship and networking opportunities, which are crucial for career advancement. Also, limited access to support networks can impede their professional growth and development.

While regulatory measures such as quotas can promote gender diversity, they also raise questions about the meritocracy of promotions. Ultimately, the goal should be to cultivate a culture where diversity is valued, and individuals are promoted based on their skills and capabilities, regardless of gender.

The shift towards sustainability and renewable energy presents a golden opportunity to reshape the culture of the energy industry and promote more women to join the energy industry. This transition demands a diverse set of talents, including soft skills traditionally associated with women. By embracing this shift, companies can attract a more diverse workforce at all levels.

Moreover, the pandemic has highlighted the feasibility of remote work, offering women greater flexibility in balancing professional and personal responsibilities. As companies adapt to remote work arrangements, it opens new avenues for women in energy to pursue leadership roles without sacrificing work-life balance.

Encouragingly, the tide may gradually be turning as female employees in the energy sector advocate for their daughters to follow in their footsteps. While changing deeply ingrained perceptions takes time, these small steps are crucial in paving the way for future generations of women in energy.

In conclusion, achieving gender diversity in the energy sector requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders. By promoting inclusivity, fostering talent from diverse backgrounds, and championing female role models, we can create a more equitable and thriving industry for all. As we navigate the challenges and seize the opportunities ahead, we strive towards a future where women are empowered to lead and excel in the energy sector.

AUTHORS
Marianne Korsnes Vinje ‍
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