The offshore wind (OSW) industry will need a significant increase in skilled workers to continue to grow. The UK’s Offshore Wind Industry Council recently estimated that the UK would need to triple the number currently employed in offshore wind to meet current 2030 targets. The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult’s Offshore Wind Supply Chain Confidence Survey Report cited difficulty in recruiting a skilled workforce as a key hinderance to growth. To ensure we keep growing the industry with the best people, OSW needs to attract workers from the largest possible available talent pool.

There is no doubt we have some incredible and inspirational women already working in the offshore wind industry, however there are still too few of us! As of 2021 only 21% of the global offshore wind workforce were women. Clearly women still face barriers that stop them from fully participating in this important industry.

One of the possible barriers is unconscious and conscious bias, and the duality of this bias. Not only should we challenge bias in recruitment and career development, but also any bias that women might have against working in an industry made up of mostly men. One possible solution to the latter might be actively reaching more women in recruitment. The industry already has many programmes aiming to achieve this. The UK OSW industry has committed through the offshore wind sector deal to ensuring that at least 33% of its workforce are women by 2030 (up from 18% in 2020).

Another possible solution, which we all should be doing in our day to day life, not just on International Women’s day, is to make sure that women know that they are welcome in the industry, and showcase the difference that women already in the industry make. I’m lucky enough to have amazing colleagues, and amongst them some really accomplished and impressive women!

But of course, sharing positive stories is not enough on its own. The OSW industry should also work to champion the education of women in STEM subjects, address gender pay gaps and improve other workplace practices to support women better. The main beneficiaries of such action will not be women, but the industry itself. Research shows that the more representative of the wider population a company is, the more successful it is. Which means that by recruiting and promoting more women, the OSW industry will become more successful and start a virtuous cycle. Having visible women will increase the attractiveness of OSW to women.

OSW is a cornerstone of the energy transition, and therefore of addressing climate change, as well as making good commercial sense as an affordable way to add new, clean energy to the grid. The OSW industry must be able to attract the people and skills required to meet our goals. This will be severely hampered if the industry does not attract significantly more female employees. Addressing the gender imbalance is therefore not just the right thing to do, it also makes sense for business and the planet. Without our “sisters in arms”, we cannot win the fight against climate change.

Mona Pettersen