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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 in developing countries.

Despite making up 39% 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 2019, Ministers from IEA countries endorsed IEA efforts to build up and share knowledge related to equal opportunities for people of all genders and backgrounds in the energy sector. Find out more about our programmes and initiatives, as well as IEA countries’ concrete actions to support gender equality in the energy sector below.

Key takeaways

Average gender wage and employment gaps by sector


The energy sector is male-dominated and women earn lower wages than men

In line with previous studies, we find significantly fewer women working in the energy sector compared to men. In relative terms the gap is more than twice as large as it is the case in the non-energy sector. In addition, we see that wages for female employees are almost 20% lower than for male employees, with the gap being somewhat greater than in non-energy firms. Significantly, the wage gap remains approximately the same when other factors are accounted for, indicating that the gap is not a function of gender differences in skill levels within firms.

This report draws upon matched employer-employee data collected as part of the OECD LinkEED project. Bringing together employer and employee data in a single framework allows for the analysis of the role of the firm in determining workers' wages, as well as the role of worker characteristics such as skills and gender for firm-level outcomes.

Average gender wage gap by skills in the energy sector


Detailed data on gender gaps in the energy sector in employment and wages, senior management, entrepreneurship and innovation

The energy sector has historically been a male-dominated field and its workforce continues to be unrepresentative of the population and workforce at large. On average, there are 76% fewer women than men working in the energy sector, a significant difference from the average 8% gap seen in the total workforce, according to 2018 data from 29 countries (22 IEA members).

The barriers women face in the energy sector are similar to those they face elsewhere in the economy. However, there is an urgency for countries to attract and retain a diverse workforce in the energy sector to ensure innovation and the inclusive perspectives needed to successfully navigate the low‑carbon energy transition. The transformation of the sector towards sustainable clean energy sources provides a golden opportunity for greater gender diversity.

Since 2021, all IEA in-depth reviews have included a section on gender policies in the questionnaire sent to countries at the start of the review process. In 2022, there has been dedicated text or chapters on gender diversity in country reviews on CanadaPolandHungary, and Italy (forthcoming) as well as the Africa Energy OutlookWorld Energy Employment ReportCEM-EPI report on Skills Development and Inclusivity for Clean Energy Transitions, and Coal Net-Zero Emissions Report (forthcoming). The IEA in-depth reviews also strive to ensure a gender balanced composition of the peer review teams.

Our work on energy and gender

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.

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 Equality in Energy Transitions Initiative (formerly known as C3E International) was created in 2010 as an initiative of the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) to accelerate gender equality and diversity in clean in clean energy transitions. In 2017, a decision was taken to organize the Equality Initiative‘s activities as an IEA Technology Collaboration Programme (TCP). This provides a strong foundation to the work and provides additional visibility to the Equality Initiative‘s work globally. As a TCP, the Equality Initiative 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 program.