Women are underrepresented globally in the energy industry. In this seminar, I present existing academic and practitioner literature on women’s employment in renewable energy in industrialized nations, emerging economies and developing countries. I will highlight similarities and differences in occupational patterns in women’s employment in renewables in different parts of the world and makes recommendations for optimizing women’s participation. Findings from this research reveal the need for wider socially progressive policies and shifts in societal attitudes about gender roles in order for women to benefit optimally from employment in renewables. Restructuring paid employment in innovative ways while delinking social protection from employment status, has been suggested in some industrialized countries as a way to balance gender equity with economic security and environmental protection. However, without more transformative social changes in gender relations, such strategies may just reinforce rather than subvert existing gender inequities both in paid employment and in unpaid domestic labor. Grounded interventions to promote gender equality in renewable energy employment - especially within the context of increasing access to energy services for underserved communities - are more prevalent and better-established in some non-OECD countries. OECD countries might be well-advised to try to implement certain programs and policies that are already in place in certain emerging economies.

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Speakers: Bipasha Baruah

Bipasha Baruah is the Canada Research Chair in Global Women’s Issues, and associate professor of women’s studies and feminist research at Western University, Canada. Dr. Baruah conducts innovative interdisciplinary research on gender, development and globalization; women and work; and social, political and economic inequality. Her research on women and property ownership and women’s employment in renewable energy and resource efficiency has influenced policy within governments, financial institutions and non-governmental organizations. Dr. Baruah earned a PhD in Environmental Studies from York University, Toronto in 2005. She has over 10 years of professional international development experience in Canada, US, India,

Indonesia and the Eastern Caribbean with organizations such as the United Nations, Asian Development Bank, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), Foreign Affairs Canada, the International Development Research Centre of Canada (IDRC) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The Royal Society of Canada (RSC) recently named Dr. Baruah to the 2015 Cohort of The College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. “The College” is Canada’s only national system of multidisciplinary recognition for the emerging generation of Canadian intellectual leadership.