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 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 the clean energy transition for 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 addresses issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the power system operation field through the following activities.

Developing Targeted Academic Resources:

Imperial College London, who leads the G-PST Consortium’s Workforce Development Pillar (Pillar 3), is developing a university-level curriculum exploring stories of women’s journeys to leadership in power system operations, gender equality and empowerment, and cutting-edge power system technical topics aligned with the G-PST Consortium’s teaching agenda.  The initiative is currently seeking university partners to pilot the curriculum. To nominate a university to engage in Women in PST, send inquiries to globalpst@nrel.gov.

Networking Opportunities and Professional Experience:

The initiative also includes university internship and professional fellowship components targeted to women and other underrepresented groups in developing countries. The first cohort of interns were placed at NREL and the Electric Power Research Institute in June 2022. The graduate student interns will work closely with NREL researchers on cutting-edge power systems analyses and clean energy integration activities to strengthen critical technical skills. At the conclusion of their internship, students will bring knowledge and analysis skills back to their home countries to support local institutions in strengthening and diversifying their workforce to better tackle the challenge of shifting the world’s power supply to clean energy sources.

To support upskilling and creating networking opportunities for women and power system professionals from underrepresented groups, the Women in Power System Transformation initiative will also set up fellowship programs where participants will spend one to three months at a leading G-PST Consortium system operator partner focusing on the application of operational and engineering solutions to bring high levels of variable renewable energy onto grids.

Addressing Institutional Barriers:

Acknowledging that many barriers to women’s career advancement in power system operations are due to systemic barriers present throughout many historically male-dominated fields, the initiative will collaborate with several existing programs that address these barriers and build foun­dational professional skills, including the USAID’s Engendering Industries program and Johns Hopkins University’s Self- Empowerment and Equity for Change Initiative (SEE Change).