Traditional energy industry gender gaps avoidable in new energy economy, analysis findsReport details barriers to women’s participation in Alberta’s energy sector, opportunities for change

Oct. 15, 2021

Women in construction helmets and high-visibility vests at a green building construction site.

Photo: Stephen Hui, Pembina Institute.

CALGARY — With gender inequity in Alberta’s traditional fossil-fuel based energy sector being a leading contributor to Canada’s overall wage gap, analysis released today by the Pembina Institute documents the biggest barriers to women’s participation and opportunities for change to ensure the clean energy economy is more equitable and inclusive.

As Alberta begins to transition to a net-zero emissions future, Pembina Institute researchers reviewed existing literature and perspectives on barriers to women’s participation and leadership in Alberta’s energy sector. The analysis – Women in Alberta’s Energy Transition: A review of barriers to participation and leadership – found that in Alberta women make an average of 41% less than men, and extractive industries (including mining and oil and gas) contributed 6.7% of the wage gap in 2018 across Canada.

The analysis outlines the barriers to gender equity — including limited access to science, technology, engineering and math education, fewer role models and mentors, and industry culture — and opportunities to prevent inequities from being duplicated in the emerging renewable energy sector.

The analysis is part of a new Pembina Institute program designed to uncover barriers, identify leaders, inspire change, and set a course for an equitable future by bringing more women into Canada’s planned transition to clean energy. To deepen the discussion, the Pembina Institute and GLOBE Series are presenting a series of talks on climate leadership and the new energy economy.


“By identifying the barriers to women's participation in the traditional energy industry, we can act to create opportunities for a more equitable and inclusive workforce in the net-zero emissions economy. We have a real opportunity to build solutions that work for women now. Though the gender gap in the traditional energy industry is wide, and the barriers are similar to those in the clean energy sector, the emerging nature of the renewables sector means it has the flexibility to avoid making the same mistakes going forward.

“It is vitally important that we improve representation and opportunities for women’s leadership in Canada’s clean energy industry. And that starts with elevating and listening to women’s voices.”

— Laura Hughes, senior policy analyst, Pembina Institute

Quick facts

  • The five key barriers identified by our research are lack of opportunity, lack of good jobs, inability to advance, income gap, and industry culture.
  • The mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction sectors were among the largest single drivers of income inequality in Canada in 2018, contributing to 6.7% of the wage gap.
  • The emerging renewable energy sector generally has only a slightly higher rate of workforce participation by women than other areas of the energy industry, suggesting that proactive efforts are needed to avoid duplication of the inequities present in the province’s fossil-fuel industries. 


Download a copy of Women in Alberta’s Energy Transition.


Jill Sawyer
Senior Communications Lead, Pembina Institute


Blog: Canada’s climate leaders say no one must be left behind in the energy transition
Webinar Recording: Profiling Women Leaders of the Energy Transformation
Event: Women in Energy Transformation series


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