Despite a world population that is almost half female, women are poorly represented in scientific fields. The figures are quite enlightening: 3% of graduates in information and communication technologies, 17 Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry or medicine (572 have been awarded to men)1. The energy sector is no exception to this unequal situation, which concerns many countries, regardless of their level of development, and has repercussions on the job market.
Over the last 15 years, the energy sector has attracted an increasing amount of women, particularly in renewable energies, where they represent 32% of the workforce2. This being said, it should be noted that in the energy sector in general, 45% of women occupy administrative positions and only 28% occupy technical positions!
The lack of gender diversity is due to the fact that, in general, there are less women that choose scientific and technical studies that provide training for the main energy professions, as indicated in the International Labour Organization statistics. In France, women represent 26% of engineering school graduates. And this number has not increased in 10 years!3
France's energy history is marked by the central role of the nuclear industry, itself linked to the country's military history. This field was, for a long time, exclusive to men. But the disparity of genders in the sector is by no means specific to France. The industrial and automobile revolution radically excluded women from industrial production, even though they played an integral part in agricultural and artisanal production. The factory worker and the housewife - these were the hallmarks of the “new economy” of the 19th and 20th centuries in developed countries.
The energy transition must allow to accelerate not only the rise of renewables, but also the place of women in the sector. As such, future recruitments will play a crucial role! IRENA’s report “Renewable Energy: A Gender Perspective”, published in 2019, indicates that: “Many of the skills needed to take advantage [of the tremendous opportunities offered by renewable energy solutions] can be developed locally and women are ideally placed to lead and support the delivery of off-grid renewable energy solutions”.
85% of professions that will exist by 2030 have not yet been created.
Feminisation starts with the deconstruction of gender stereotypes and cognitive biases. How is this achieved? By training teams on identifying their own biases. Additionally, the words used in job descriptions may also perpetuate stereotypes, and should therefore be carefully chosen! Companies also need to commit to a more active search for female talent. This conviction should be adhered to even if the talent pools in our sector remain limited: publication of job offers in women’s networks, organisation of events dedicated to women, as well as partnerships with schools and universities. The third lever is educational: by making girls in secondary school aware of professions in which they can project themselves. Companies can help change representations and encourage young girls to opt for scientific and technical studies.
Professional equality is the result of a proactive approach. Our goal? That, by 2030, half of all managerial positions be held by women. To achieve this, numerous actions are being carried out. For example:
“In 2020, women are still a minority in the digital environment even though the opportunities are tremendously appealing. [...] The digital sector also needs women and their perspective in order to develop tools, models and applications made by all and for all. The economic and societal benefits will only be greater”.
Aurélie Jean, PhD in Sciences and Entrepreneur
*Published by les éditions du cherche midi, the book is available in bookshops and online since March 4, 2021.
Would you like to know more? Élise Maury, HR Deputy Executive Vice President at ENGIE, shares her LinkedIn Opinion on her vision of gender equality and the actions to be taken in order to achieve parity in our sector!
Yes, it can accelerate the feminization of the sector, as evidenced by two laws in France. The Copé-Zimmermann law of 2011 has allowed France to establish itself as a leader among European nations in terms of the feminization of the boards of directors in its large companies! In 2019, the Pénicaud law created an index for professional diversity between genders, with an obligation to produce results. At ENGIE, this consolidated index is at 89/100 points in France, compared to the national average of 87/100 held by French companies.
And ENGIE goes beyond French legislation: it has decided to apply this index to all of its entities throughout the world, and has added the Group’s consolidated index as one of the key indicators monitored in its long-term CSR plan. In 2020, the Group’s World Index was at 84 points.
“This does not exist in other countries”, highlights Élisabeth Richard, president of the WIN (Women In Networking) network at ENGIE. “Progress is only possible when we measure. Among the indicators included in the index, one of them concerns the return from maternity leave – a moment that can jeopardize a woman’s career. The Pénicaud index is a practical tool that helps promote gender equality, and is a real lever for company performance.”
1. Source: UNESCO report "Girls’ and women’s education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)", 2017
2. Source: Irena, 2019
3. Study by the Institut des politiques publiques (IPP), laboratory of the Paris School of Economics, January 2021