More women in energy will help tackle the fight against climate change

Published: 13 Feb 2018 By Matt Cook

A leading energy expert has emphasised that the lack of women in energy businesses is holding back the industry’s efforts to manage the impacts of climate change. The professor of energy policy at the University of Exeter, Catherine Mitchell suggests that the imbalance in gender diversity means the industry lacks openness to innovative ideas and more specifically a movement towards low carbon energy technology.

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Mitchell explains that the industry is heavily dominated by men and that this is a crucial factor in slowing the transition to a cleaner energy industry. Mitchell advises the government and businesses on energy issues. A conference that features women only on the panel is scheduled next month to explore the lack of female leaders within the industry.

Mitchell emphasizes that she does not suggest that women are more in tune with energy issues and sustainability. However, she notes that conventional, fossil fuel sources of energy are considerably more male-dominated.

Juliet Davenport, the chief executive of leading UK energy supplier Good Energy supports the issues raised by Mitchell suggesting the argument is a credible one and that the energy sector is falling behind other sectors in relation to diversity, whilst greener companies seem to be relatively balanced. Davenport believes that the lack of diversity is having an impact on the rate of transition to cleaner energy sources.

According to recent research, over 60% of the leading 89 energy businesses in the UK have no women on their boards. Furthermore, it is quite common for most industry events to only consist of men-only panels or possibly one woman. There are multiple cases where women are unrepresented at events or at meetings where executive decisions are being made.
 
Recently the Conservative MP Antoinette Sandbach said how surprised she was by the panel at the questioning of energy giants on the impact of a price cap which consisted of four men. At this conference, Sandbach also questioned the chief executive of SSE over the gender pay gap of over 19%.
Some industry members are making some efforts to change the issues of gender in the sector.

The big six lobby group Energy UK has now banned men-only panels at any of its events. The external affairs director Abbie Sampson has suggested that the energy industry transition will bring significant opportunities to improve the gender balance issues.

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