[Column] Women, energy and climate change: another reason to demonstrate and manifest this 8MTuesday, 08 de March
“The development of projects, energy systems and energy policies is commonly associated with male roles, where the historical gender gap that exists in the fields of science, technology and engineering is perpetuated”, warns the researcher from the Center for Excellence in Geothermal Energy of the Andes (CEGA), Sofía Vargas. Given this, he points out, “the energy transition is not only technical and economic, but it is profoundly social and gender-based. For this reason, (…) this 8M we will once again demonstrate and take to the streets to demand that right. planet, for us and for our daughters.
A new commemoration of the 8M is an opportunity to put on the table all the dimensions where there is still no gender equity, energy and climate change being part of that list.
In the framework of the energy transition and climate change, there are dominant discourses and actors, with the technocratic and masculine gaze still prevailing. The development of projects, energy systems and energy policies is commonly associated with male roles, perpetuating the historical gender gap that exists in the fields of science, technology and engineering. This can be seen both in the participation of women and in deeper dimensions of equity, social justice and gender perspective.
The participation of women in the world of energy in Chile makes this gap clearly visible. According to information presented by the Ministry of Energy in its report “Diagnosis of the situation of women’s insertion in the energy sector of women and gender” (2017), female participation in the private world represents 23%, a percentage that it decreases when it comes to positions of power, where only 10% of CEOs or board positions are held by women. General managers drop even more, reaching only 8%. These percentages are not very different from those in the public sector, where men hold 77% of senior management positions. On the other hand, if we look at the panorama in terms of the wage gap, the situation does not change, with the gap or difference in wages being 24%.
If we add sociocultural practices and dimensions associated with patriarchal dynamics to this reality, the situation is even more disturbing. To understand this point, let’s review the results of a survey of 1,500 contributors to the IPCC report on climate change in 2019. A report published in Nature showed that more than a third of respondents felt that male authors often dominated discussions in their working groups; 38% of women surveyed reported seeing someone else take credit for a woman’s idea, and 52% of women reported seeing a woman being ignored. This situation shows us that the issue goes beyond a figure associated with participation, but rather manifests deeper and often invisible dynamics, which must be modified.
Finally, when reviewing the literature and scientific publications on energy and gender, women have been located in the vulnerable group, with less access to energy services and mostly affected by energy poverty. In this way, the relationship between gender and energy is an urgent category and framework for analysis when promoting public policies that seek a fair energy future.
These three aspects -participation, cultural dimensions and involvement- show that in the world of energy and climate change a structure is reproduced, where there is no -in 2022- equity or gender equality. The energy transition is not only technical and economic, but it is deeply social and gender-based. For this reason, for a fair energy transition and following the motto proposed this 2022 by UN Women “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, this 8M we will demonstrate again and take to the streets to demand that right. For the planet, for us and for our daughters.