On Thursday, June 29, 2023, the United States Agency for International Development Women’s Economic Empowerment Community of Practice (USAID WEE CoP) held a learning event, “Preparing a Gender-Inclusive Power Sector Workforce for the Future.” More than 80 participants joined to hear Hallie Lucas, Researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Program Lead on the Women in Power System Transformation Activity (PST), present the critical role of power system operators in the clean energy transition, the current status and potential roles of women as employees in the power sector, and how Women in PST prepares women for the power sector workforce.
Following the presentation, a panel of Women in PST partners discussed insights from university programs and workforce readiness efforts focused on increasing the pipeline of women leaders in the power sector. Balarko Chaudhuri, Reader in Power Systems at the Imperial College of London and a co-lead of the Global Power System Transformation (G-PST) consortium’s workforce development activities, highlighted how universities are working to increase women’s interest in power systems careers and designed more inclusive technical coursework. Marcela González, Human Resources Director at Columbia XM, discussed employer initiatives to advance gender equality in their workforce through university partnerships.
The top three takeaways from the event were:
- Power system operators play a vital role in transforming the power sector to renewable, clean energy. This transformation will require new technical expertise and generate new occupations within the power systems profession. Including women within the development of new expertise is critical to women’s economic empowerment and to ensuring robust growth in the sector itself, particularly given the global power utility and energy sector workforce has a significant gender imbalance, with women comprising only around 20% of the workforce, mostly in support functions.
- Universities, like the Imperial College of London, are designing courses so that women globally can obtain technical training for new power sector professions. Courses utilize flip-classroom formats to allow flexibility for schedules and learning pace, and global course content is provided freely to reach those who do not typically have access to engineering programs. These courses incorporate new clean energy-related technical content so that students gain knowledge about gender issues that impact the power sector. Additionally, women experts develop curriculum content, share their career experiences, and inspire students through videos, aiming to reshape narratives around power systems careers and elevate successful women role models in the field.
- Power system operators, like XM in Colombia, can reduce the gender gap in recruitment and build a gender-diverse workforce pipeline by partnering with universities to train and support future talent for renewable energy integration.
Resources: Below you will find the June 29 learning event slides and resources.
For more resources on the Women in PST initiative, follow these links:
To learn about the coursework created by the G-PST Consortium, see:
- Inaugural Teaching Agenda
- University-level Teaching Materials from the Women in Power System Transformation and the G-PST
Additionally, check out more about XM with the following resources:
For questions about this event, or to join the USAID WEE CoP, please contact email@example.com.