African american technician check the maintenance of the solar panels. Black woman engineer at solar station. stock photo

Women and Gender Justice in the Clean Energy Future

At Just Solutions, we aim to deepen understanding and expand the perspective of what it will take to transition to a 100% regenerative energy future that is just and equitable. A comprehensive approach to achieving 100% regenerative energy that is centered on justice must include the promotion of gender justice. We know the extractive culture of the fossil fuel industry is linked to the inequality and the discrimination of women, girls, and the LGBTQ community. Therefore, a clean energy future should promote gender justice in renewable energy jobs and in investments to address gender inequities.

Women and Economic Conditions

In the United States, women, especially women of color, are more likely to live in poverty than men1 and according to the U.S. Census Bureau data, “of the 38.1 million people living in poverty in 2018, 56 percent—or 21.4 million—were women”.2 In 2018, female-householder families represented “17.8% of the population in primary families (46.7 million of 262.0 million), they represented 83.9% of the decrease in poverty for families (1.0 million of the 1.2 million decrease)”.3 In addition, women and girls are often disproportionately affected by climate change yet currently there is a scarcity of job opportunities in the clean energy sector for women and LGBTQ people.

Women in the Clean Energy Sector

The clean energy sector is one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy. According to the 2022 U.S. Energy & Employment Jobs Report (USEER), the energy sector experienced positive job growth from 2020 to 2021 across all sectors and outperformed job growth in the economy overall (4% compared to 2.8%), solar energy jobs increased by 5.4%, adding 17,212 new jobs. However, the sector currently employs fewer Black and women workers (USEER 2022). As we see a growth in funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Advancing Equity through Workforce Partnerships. It is key to ensure solar jobs must be going not only to frontline communities but specifically to train and employ Black and women workers in the workforce. Concrete policy mechanisms to promote and achieve gender justice in the clean energy sector include:

  • Increase accessibility to training and apprenticeship programs for women, women of color, and LGBTQ communities
  • Set gender targets in recruitment, hiring, and retention
  • Ensure equitable wages and benefits across genders
  • Put women, women of color, and LGBTQ individuals in positions of leadership
  • Demand support for women-led enterprises.

Supporting Women in the Clean Energy Workforce

It is key to have strong workforce standards for people of color and those with lower incomes, particularly Black, Indigenous, and women of color. A clean energy future should include good labor standards, especially for frontline communities and women of color. Some policy elements to include are family-supporting wages and support of a prevailing wage. 

Frontline communities trying to access careers in the renewable energy sector should be provided opportunities to access high-quality, high-wage jobs that can bring them out of poverty and support their families. Prevailing wages are typically based on rates in collective bargaining agreements and vary from state to state.

The Basic Facts About Women in Poverty. The Center for American Progress. 2020


Poverty Rate for People in Female-Householder Families Lowest on Record. US Census Beauru 2019