As I’ve written in the past, the energy sector is dominated by men. At meetings and conferences, it’s easy to recognize the lack of women in the room, on panels, and involved in the discussion. But a look the latest poll numbers reveals the gender gap goes well beyond the energy sector itself.
Consider: In the United States, 44 percent of men say they are knowledgeable on energy issues. Just 20 percent of women do. Sixty-seven percent of men say energy issues are important. Fifty-seven percent of women do. Fifty-one percent of men say they follow national energy issues. Thirty-five percent of women do. These are just some examples of what I’ve been observing within the data.
While poll responses are self-reported (women and men may answer questions differently), the differences are large enough to suggest that one half of the population is generally less interested, engaged, and aware of energy issues than the other. What do you think accounts for the gender divide? Cultural norms? Social mores? Something else?
Regardless of what’s driving this trend, we ought to do something to close the gap because women matter in the energy dialogue. A lot. We are frequently the primary household decision-makers so have a disproportionate influence on the future of energy efficiency. Our choices will continue to play a major role in defining national energy priorities, so we should be paying closer attention.
How might we encourage more women to become engaged in the energy issues that affect all of us? (The answer is not another “campaign” like this one by European Commission which hoped to get women excited about science):
That said, I am very interested to read your suggestions in the comments (and please share whether you are male or female in your reply).
This post originally appeared at Scientific American’s ‘Plugged In’ on October 29, 2013.