How Women Can Light Up India's Renewable Energy Industry
By: WE Staff
Efforts to remove barriers, promote education and mentorship, and create inclusive workplaces are essential steps toward harnessing the full potential of women in the renewable energy industry. As these prominent leaders have presented their viewpoints, they are tirelessly working in their respective fields for the society’s growth and development for a brighter future.
India, a nation with ambitious goals for renewable energy, understands the value of involving women in this industry in the current times. It was back in 1937 when Dr. Kamala Sohonie, became the first Indian woman to receive a Ph.D. in a scientific field and was one of the first Indian women to enter the energy industry. Her phenomenal work in biochemistry has inspired countless generations of women to pursue their careers in science and energy industries.
However, the journey for women foraying in the energy sector has been a long battle to gain representation in a male-dominated industry. The past few years have seen concerted efforts to reduce gender disparities and promote greater inclusion for women in this important sector. The involvement of women in various facets of the renewable energy landscape is increasingly important as it works to transition to cleaner and more sustainable sources of energy.
What Statistics Say
Women are leading the world with their capabilities and capacities in every field of society and nearly every significant opportunity or challenge that the world faces today revolves around energy where a lack of energy directly affects the advancement of both the economy and humanity.
Dr Sasmita Nayak, the co-founder of Karma Tech, a start-up that produces renewable energy outlines the major challenges faced by renewable energy startups. “Our main challenge is to adapt and implement new and novel technology and provide cost-effective solutions. This can be attained by recognizing the potential benefits of new technology and active research in the laboratory. Karma Tech team tries to identify the specific requirements for solar products in rural areas and customize products according to the needs.” Dr Sasmita is actively engaged in the search for affordable and renewable energy sources for solar-related products.
In accordance to face these challenges and moving forward to development, the proportion of women working in the renewable energy industry is steadily rising. About 32 per cent of full-time workers in the renewable energy sector are women, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
When compared to the conventional oil and gas industry, the study saw women make only up to 22 per cent in the respective sector. However, women are significantly underrepresented in STEM fields than in administrative positions in the renewable energy sector.
In contrast to other industries, women in the energy sector have less career mobility as women occupy just one out of every five leadership roles in the workforce, mentions World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2022. Women working in the energy sector earn less than men and even less than non-energy sectors.
Barriers Women face in the Renewable Energy Sector:
Women often face a number of challenges and obstacles in their path of progress, especially when the sector is historically male-dominated. At times women need to prove themselves about their capabilities and skills towards a specific industry. Obstacles like unequal pay, limited opportunities for career advancement workplace discrimination, and cultural and societal norms frequently discourage women from pursuing their careers in their respective industries. They often lack with financial resources and training or skills that are required for employment in the renewable energy sector.
However, women recognize the importance of the renewable energy sector thus take up the responsibility at hand. As Sweta Mehta, the Deputy General Manager at Rays Power Infra Private Limited (Rpipl), rightly says, “As a business leader in the renewable energy sector, I believe it is our collective responsibility to address these challenges and promote the transition to cleaner energy sources. To achieve a sustainable future, we must continue to invest in research and development, work with stakeholders to establish favorable policies, and collaborate to overcome the obstacles that lie ahead.”
Sweta has shown an instrumental growth in the market for renewable energy in India where the nations need to reach a goal of 450 Gw of renewable energy capacity by 2030. She has been playing a vital role in developing the renewable energy sector with her continuous inspiration and empowering other women to take up leadership roles in the industry.
Opportunities for Women in Indian energy industries
The Women-led development Agenda has become a prime focus after the G20 Presidency meeting for bringing sustainable growth to society. The Indian government has introduced a number of programs and regulations to encourage gender diversity in the renewable energy industry as the 'Ujala Yojana' program seeks to educate and empower women to start their solar businesses.
In order to train and educate women in renewable energy technologies, a number of organizations and NGOs have introduced skill development programs. These initiatives aim to bridge the gender gap in technical expertise.
The Prime Minister's commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2070 and the recent Green Hydrogen Misson are all helping society and women in the industrial and agricultural sectors.
With supportive government run initiatives in place, the path for women to shine in the energy and renewable energy sector has been paved. Rena Singh Ghai, Managing Director of Green Ice Solutions shares sound advice for any aspiring women leaders. She says, “Be your own master by constantly learning and upgrading your professional skills to develop exceptional domain expertise. Take time to listen to views, and introspect on your actions and inactions. Keep a sharp focus on your work. Last but not least, love and live life to the fullest with compassion and passion.”