As is the case in many historically male-dominated fields, women are underrepresented in leadership and technical positions within power system operations organizations. This disparity persists despite a growing body of research demonstrating how women bring diverse skills, experiences, and perspectives that improve overall organizational performance.
The Women in Power System Transformation initiative, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Global Power System Transformation Consortium (G-PST) , will address educational and professional barriers. the entry and advancement of women in power system operating organizations.
“As countries transform their electricity systems by bringing significantly greater shares of renewable energy onto the grid, there is a risk that many women will be left out of the transition to clean energy, which means that women benefit less, socially and economically, of the opportunities offered by the energy decarbonization of the system,” said Sadie Cox, head of the initiative at NREL.
Women in Power System Transformation was officially launched by the Department of Energy during the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference at the US Government event titled Our Climate Future is Female; Women and Girls Leading Climate Action (remarks begin at 9:32 in the video). This activity contributes to USAID’s overall goal of increasing gender equality and women’s empowerment and complements USAID’s broader Engendering Industries program, which aims to increase economic opportunity for women. women in traditionally male-dominated sectors around the world, including energy, water, infrastructure and technology. sectors.
“We worked closely with USAID’s Engendering Industries program and the G-PST consortium to first understand the challenges and opportunities that existed for women in the energy sector,” Cox said. “We then used this information to lay the groundwork for the activities of this initiative.
Overcoming obstacles through academic and vocational training
One of the main partners of the G-PST Consortium team, Imperial College London, is leading the development of a gender-responsive university-level engineering training program for women in power system transformation . The program will explore stories of women’s journeys to leadership in power system operations, topics on gender equality and empowerment, and cutting-edge technical topics on the power system aligned with the curriculum. of the G-PST consortium. The content of the Women in Power System Transformation course will be completed in the coming months and made freely available to university professors and students around the world.
This initiative also includes components of university internships and professional scholarships aimed at women and other underrepresented groups in developing countries. Student interns will work closely with NREL researchers on advanced power system analysis and clean energy integration activities to build critical technical skills. By the end of their internship, students will be well-prepared to contribute analysis, research, and knowledge to institutions and organizations in their home countries. Applications for the Women in Power System Transformation Graduate Summer Internship Program are now open: Women in Power System Transformation Graduate Summer Intern.
Recognizing the need to dismantle barriers to access across workforce streams, Women in Power System Transformation will provide professional development opportunities for women practitioners through its professional fellowship program. Leading system operators in partnership with the G-PST Consortium will host exchange participants and provide them with first-hand experience in the management and operation of high-energy renewable energy networks.
Women in Power System Transformation will also strengthen academic and workforce training initiatives by providing comprehensive training on women’s empowerment, negotiation and leadership to participating students, professionals and host institutions. This training will be developed in partnership with the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Empowerment and Equity for Change (SEE Change) initiative, building on JHU’s previous work to address the broader challenges. faced by women in the workplace.
“I hope the tools we provide through this initiative will evolve the field of power grid operators to be more open to women so that we can unlock the full potential of this segment of the workforce. work,” said Sarah Lawson, one of the initiative’s agreement officer representatives. at USAID. “We need the full participation of women to truly address the enormous challenge of shifting the world’s energy supply to clean energy sources as soon as possible to counter the threat of climate change.”
Explore the Women in Power System Transformation program fact sheet.