The Women in Power System Transformation initiative’s mission is to support and empower women, in all their diversity, to lead and fully take part in transforming and decarbonizing power systems around the world.
As we collectively work to address the global climate crisis, women leaders and decision-makers are essential to achieving successful, inclusive, and equitable clean energy transitions. Enabling women to bring their unique skills and experiences to bear across key power sector institutions will strengthen decision-making, accelerate innovation, and drive dynamic solutions to meet urgent global challenges. Advancing gender diversity, equity, and inclusion in this critical sector can support the economic and social empowerment of women around the world, such that they might benefit – in equal measure – from rapidly evolving and systemic positive change.
Although women make up half of the worldwide workforce potential, they are often underrepresented in power sector technical and leadership roles. The Women in Power System Transformation (PST) initiative—formally launched at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and implemented through the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the G-PST Consortium—was created to address educational and professional barriers to women’s entry and advancement in power system operation organizations.
The initiative leverages the G-PST Consortium’s network of industry and academic institutions leading clean energy transformation in the power sector and complements USAID’s broader Engendering Industries programming, which aims to increase economic opportunities for women in traditionally male-dominated sectors around the world.
Women in Power System Transformation Activities
Women in PST recognizes that cross-cutting workforce development and institutional changes are necessary to realize the full potential of women across the power sector workforce pipeline. This initiative works at the intersection of several critical objectives to advance and empower women’s leadership in the power sector and academic institutions around the world.
Women in PST is supporting women across the power sector workforce pipeline to develop knowledge and skills on cutting-edge technical topics related to variable renewable energy (VRE) integration, power sector transformation, and advanced power system operations. Activities include:
- Offering student internships at G-PST technical institutions
- Collaborating with G-PST system operators on professional fellowship exchanges
- Developing publicly available technical teaching materials for graduate-level engineering programs and practitioner upskilling
Internships at G-PST Technical Institutions
Women in PST offers 10-12-week graduate student summer internships with a focus on gender diversity at G-PST technical institutions, including NREL and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). These experiential learning opportunities are focused on building advanced technical knowledge and skills in alignment with ongoing G-PST work. Please email USAIDNREL@nrel.gov for the latest information on Women in PST internship opportunities.
Professional Fellowships at G-PST System Operators
Women in PST collaborates with G-PST system operators to offer practitioner-level fellowships with a focus on gender diversity and underrepresented groups working in power system operators or utilities. Participants can spend one to three months at a leading G-PST Consortium system operator partner focused on application of cutting-edge operational and engineering solutions to bring high levels of variable renewable energy onto grids. Please reach out to USAIDNREL@nrel.gov if your organization would be interested to participate in fellowship exchanges.
Graduate-Level Technical Teaching Materials
With leadership from Imperial College London, Women in PST is collaborating with leading women experts from around the world to develop graduate-level university course content and student exercises for technical topics identified by the G-PST Inaugural Teaching Agenda. As power sector modernization and renewable energy integration are introducing novel challenges to traditional power system planning and operations approaches, it is critically important for women – from university graduate students to power sector practitioners – to have access to high-quality, relevant technical coursework to build the cutting-edge technical skills and competencies needed to excel in and lead the workforce of the future.
Teaching materials and student exercises for four technical topics, all designed and taught by women professionals and experts, are now available for universities and practitioners around the world to download. Lecture recordings and supportive materials are made available at no cost to universities and teaching institutions around the world to expand cutting-edge technical training to as many students, faculty, and practitioners as possible. These materials are designed to be easily adopted into existing curricula for instruction in a virtual or hybrid classroom format.
Women in PST is bringing together leading institutions focused on gender diversity and equality in the energy and other sectors to equip women with the skills and support needed to succeed in a rapidly changing power sector. Women in PST is partnering with Johns Hopkins University Self-Empowerment and Equity for Change (SEE Change) Initiative to support women power system operators and students in building positive mental habits, realizing their leadership potential, and achieving their personal and professional goals through multi-week empowerment and personal agency training.
Women in PST is also partnering with leading women’s networks and organizations to build support structures that expand women’s access to professional opportunities and advancement in power sector institutions.
Women in PST is partnered with USAID Engendering Industries and G-PST system operators to address engrained institutional barriers to the representation, advancement, and retention of women in power sector technical and leadership roles. USAID Engendering Industries provides targeted support to utilities and system operators in developing countries to institutionalize gender-diverse decision-making, expertise, and leadership in their policies and operations. Explore USAID’s Engendering Industries best practice guidance and Gender 101 Training.
In November 2022, Women in PST sponsored staff from G-PST’s partner system operators to travel to Vienna, Austria to participate in the Workforce Gender Equality Accelerated Program. This one-week training was for human resources and upper-level management professionals to identify gender equality gaps within their organizations, develop a business case that demonstrates how gender equality will benefit the organization’s bottom line, and strengthen leadership and change management skills and exercise more influence to create an equitable and diverse workplace. Twenty-three representatives from three G-PST system operator partners—Colombia’s XM, Indonesia’s PLN, and Grid India—convened in Vienna to complete this unique training that enables them to take targeted, tangible, and strategic action, grounded in assessment, to increase gender equality in their organization.