A woman walking outside with trees in the background

Previewing LinkedIn’s Latest Research at the ADB Gender Forum

The theme of the 2023 ADB (Asian Development Bank) Gender Forum, held last month in Manila, the Philippines, was “2 Billion Changemakers: Women Leading on Climate Action in Asia and the Pacific.” It was, then, the perfect forum for introducing LinkedIn’s latest research: a gender-focused deep dive into our 2023 Green Skills Report. 

Our official findings recently published in “The Green Gender Gap: A special edition of LinkedIn’s Global Green Skills Report 2023.” I was thrilled to be able to give a sneak preview of our data, analysis, and insights to the 400-plus ADB Gender Forum participants, who included representatives of government agencies, development partners, the private sector, academia, civil society, the media, and women’s organizations from throughout the Asia-Pacific region. 

ADB Chief Economist Albert Park joined me for a discussion of our research, which he described as “fascinating,” saying, “The findings are really provocative and give us much food for thought.” ADB has committed $100 billion in climate financing for its developing member countries through 2030. 

Throughout the two-day conference we tackled the topic of gender equality and climate action from multiple angles, including women’s role in the green economy, how women can drive climate-resilient agriculture, and the urgency of equipping women and girls with the skills they’ll need to be climate action leaders. Our research gets at the heart of these issues, by quantifying the ways in which women are missing out on the opportunities that the greening economy is unlocking — and by pointing to the most promising strategies and focus areas for bridging the opportunity gap. 

A widening gap 

We know that women are disproportionately vulnerable to the damage caused by climate change. Our findings show that they’re also missing out on the chance to be part of the climate solution — and to reap the incredible economic and employment benefits that the greening economy will continue to present. 

According to our research, women make up only a third of the global green talent pool, which consists of workers with at least one green skill or one green job experience. While 1 in 6 men qualify as green talent, only 1 in 10 women do. Put another way, 9 in 10 women lack a single green skill. 

What’s more, the green skills gender gap is widening. The gap has grown 25% over the past 7 years — from 4.9 percentage points in 2016, when around 12% of men and 7% of women were green talent, to 6.1 percentage points today. 

Our research also delved into the fast-growing renewable energy industry, a pillar of the greening economy. We found that while women are underrepresented throughout the global workforce and in leadership roles, in particular, both problems are especially severe in renewable energy. Women comprise: 

  • 34% of the renewable energy workforce, versus 44% in other industries

  • 21% of the renewable energy C-suite, versus 25% in other industries

  • 22% of renewable energy company founders, versus 30% in other industries

“Women in the energy transition” was one of the key themes we explored at the ADB Gender Forum gathering. As our findings show, far too few women are involved in the energy transition, one of the most exciting sectors of the global economy. Women are missing out on resilient, well-paying career opportunities in renewable energy, and our planet is missing out on their valuable contributions. 

A global challenge

The trends that our research points to tend to hold across countries and regions. Although the size of the green skills gender gap differs from place to place, this is something that requires immediate attention across the globe. 

In the Asia-Pacific region, the focus of the ADB Gender Forum summit, the climate problem is especially acute. Eight of the 15 nations most heavily impacted by extreme weather are in APAC. Here are some of our most interesting APAC-specific findings: 

  • In APAC, the pool of green talent — consisting of workers with at least one green skill or one green job experience — is 33.2% female and 66.8% male. As of August 2023, 10% of women workers in APAC, and 17% of men, were green talent. 

  • APAC’s green talent gender gap — the difference between the share of women who qualify as green talent and the share of men who do — has grown from 5.2 to 6.7 percentage points since 2016. By comparison, the median green talent gender gap across all countries we studied grew less over that period and remains smaller (with 6.1 percentage points separating women from men, up from 4.9 points in 2016). 

  • More than a quarter of renewable energy entrepreneurs (25.5%) in APAC are women, compared to 32.7% of entrepreneurs in other industries, for a gap of 7.2 points. In 2018, however, 29% of APAC’s renewable energy entrepreneurs in the region were women, compared to 30.7% of entrepreneurs in other industries — a 1.7-point gap.

  • In India, women make up just 17.8% of founders in the renewable energy industry. By comparison, the median across the 44 countries we studied was 21.8%. While the share of women among India’s renewable energy entrepreneurs has risen about 4.5 percentage points since 2018, there’s clearly a long way to go.

  • In New Zealand, 29.3% of founders in the renewable energy industry are women, down from 38.3% in 2018. This 9-percentage-point drop is the most substantial decline we observed in our sample. In Singapore, the share of women renewable energy founders has dropped 4.8 percentage points since 2018, from 36.7% then to 31.9% today. 

The path forward 

While it may be tempting to see our findings as discouraging, I prefer to view them as a decisive call to action that helps illuminate the path forward. Across the APAC region, as across the world, women are being left out of the transition to a green economy. This is happening as the green transition unlocks new employment opportunities every day, and as women remain disproportionately vulnerable to the impact of climate change. 

By adopting policies and programs that equip women and girls with green skills, and by prioritizing this work in emerging economies, we have the potential to lift millions of women out of poverty while accelerating our race to save the planet.