Engendering Utilities: Improving gender diversity in power sector utilities
Women have traditionally been under-represented in the energy sector; they are often excluded from many power sector employment opportunities. At the same time, there is a lack of empirical research documenting the roles of women in the energy sector employment. Studies in other business sectors suggest that including more women in the workforce has a positive impact on productivity and the bottom line. Therefore, the development hypothesis for this study suggests that by improving labor market participation by women and mitigating gender disparities throughout a company’s human resources practices, power sector utilities can increase operational efficiencies that will ultimately bring greater economic value to utilities companies. This study, the first of its kind, endeavors to better understand the role of women within electric power distribution companies (DISCOs) and the gender disparities in this segment of the energy sector. Based on data from 14 utilities in Eastern Europe, South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, we find wide variations in gender-based employment practices and outcomes. Women’s employment within power distribution utilities in the sample averages 13 percent of the workforce, with a range from less than 1 percent in Pakistan to more than 30 percent in Ukraine. From our sample, it is clear that women work at all management levels and in all employment categories in DISCOs, including technical field operations, engineering, finance, regulatory compliance, planning, customer service, human resources (HR), and information technology (IT) operations.