Clean energy journalism for a cooler tomorrow

Chart: Women hold less than a third of jobs in wind and solar power

A staggering 70% of the U.S. workforce for wind and solar electricity generation is male — even worse than the gender gap in coal and gas power generation.
By Maria Virginia Olano

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A female employee and a male employee walk down a row of a solar panel array

Canary Media’s chart of the week translates crucial data about the clean energy transition into a visual format.

The workforce in the U.S. electric power sector is heavily male, and even more so when it comes to renewables. Last year, 69% of people working in electricity generation were men, according to the United States Energy & Employment Report 2022 from the Department of Energy, compared to 53% of the national workforce overall. The gender breakdown was slightly worse within the solar and wind subcategories, both of which are 70% male. 

A chart showing the breakdown of male vs. female employment in power generation sectors in the U.S.

In a 2019 report, the International Renewable Energy Agency found that there’s a significant gender gap in clean energy employment worldwide. Only 32% of the global renewable energy workforce was female in 2018. Women were especially underrepresented in renewables jobs related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), holding only 28 percent of those roles. That reflects the broader lack of representation and access for women across STEM occupations.

Jobs in renewable energy fields are growing at a fast pace and are projected to continue doing so in the coming decades. In the U.S., the BlueGreen Alliance estimates that the recently passed federal Inflation Reduction Act will spur the creation of more than 1.7 million jobs in solar, wind and other clean energy fields over the next 10 years. Globally, if we get on track to keep average temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, the number of jobs in renewables could increase from 12 million in 2020 to 38 million by 2030 and 43 million by 2050, according to IRENA.

But how many of these jobs will go to women? IRENA emphasizes that a key pillar of the energy transition should be to ensure that the opportunities it creates are equally accessible, and the benefits it bestows, equitably distributed.” Canary Media is keeping tabs on these efforts in our Charging Up column, which highlights the importance of gender diversity in the clean energy workforce and features leaders working to bring more women and underrepresented groups into the sector.

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Maria Virginia Olano is editorial producer at Canary Media.