A woman in hi-viz and a hard hat stands on a flat plain with wind turbines in the background.
Clean energy will continue to be a major contributor to low emission development goals. Therefore, it is critical that the sector is inclusive and does not worsen existing gender inequalities. | Credit: RALI

Advancing Women’s Leadership in the Clean Energy Transition

By Derina Man

The clean energy sector has seen rapid growth. Countries around the world have embraced these technologies to achieve low emission development goals, increase infrastructure resilience and energy access, and reduce reliance on imported fossil fuels. While the growth of clean energy represents a positive trend in the context of global commitments to climate action, women have so far not been able to participate fully in this sector. This disparity is a particular challenge for women entrepreneurs who can help drive the clean energy transition.

Understanding Barriers to Women’s Leadership in Clean Energy

A new Resources to Advance LEDS Implementation (RALI) Series paper introduces the current barriers that women business leaders and entrepreneurs face and describes several interventions that could help overcome these barriers.

Addressing the barriers to women’s full participation in the clean energy sector is not just important for development outcomes; it also represents an important business opportunity. Equitable gender representation can help harness the full potential of the workforce, allow businesses to achieve greater financial performance and growth, promote greater innovation, and overcome complex challenges. RALI also created an infographic that summarizes the business opportunities of bringing more women into the clean energy sector.

Supporting Women through Clean Energy Startups

Clean energy accelerators and incubators, where many future market influencers will form and emerge, provide a conduit to introduce women into the clean energy sector.

Incubators can help nascent companies develop gender-inclusive policies, run gender workshops, and raise awareness of the social and economic benefits of diverse teams. They can also play a pivotal role in addressing some of the challenges women face in the energy sector and establish new norms for how companies operate. Encouraging more women to launch new companies can also help close the gender representation gap across the energy sector, as women leaders show a greater willingness to hire and promote female workers.

Recognizing this opportunity, the RALI project has been working with New Energy Nexus Southeast Asia (NEXUS SEA), a network of startup incubators and accelerators in the region, to support more gender inclusive recruitment and selection practices.

To support NEXUS SEA network members, RALI created a step-by-step guide for gender-inclusive recruitment and selection for incubator and accelerator programs. The guide identifies common best practices and enables program facilitators to assess their existing approach to recruitment and selection. To measure gender equity progress and allow programs to improve continuously, RALI also developed a monitoring and evaluation framework.

While RALI developed these resources for NEXUS SEA network members, other incubator and accelerator programs can use them to advance gender equity in the clean energy sector and unlock the potential of women in the workforce. 

These resources were developed by Helena Caswell, Diana Jaramillo, Howard Marano, and Katie O'Malley of ICF:

Strategic Objective
Integration, Mitigation
Low Emission Development, Economic Growth, Energy, Clean or Renewable Energy, Gender and Social Inclusion, Infrastructure, Mitigation, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning, Indicators
Derina Man headshot

Derina Man

Derina Man is a Senior Managing Consultant at ICF, a global professional services firm that delivers consulting services and technology solutions in energy, climate change, and other areas. Derina provides technical and policy support related to low-emissions development strategies, greenhouse gas accounting and mitigation, and the phase-out of fluorinated gases. She is currently the project manager for the USAID Transparency and Long-Term Strategies project.

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