Inclusion in green jobs

Understanding what might prevent women from working in green job roles

The growing availability of green jobs in the UK economy presents a profound opportunity for the UK’s workforce. However, initial evidence suggests that women are at risk of being left behind. To understand what might prevent women from working in green roles, we interviewed 16 women, ranging from current students to experienced professionals. We were particularly interested to find out what barriers might exist for women with existing STEM skills, qualifications or experience.

What's in the report?

  • In Nesta and the Behavioural Insights Team’s recent research on improving the appeal of green skills and training, we found that women were significantly less interested in green skills than men. Separately, Boston Consulting Group has estimated that by 2030 only 25% of global green jobs will be held by women.
  • We held semi-structured interviews with 16 women who were actively searching for a job or about to start a new qualification and who were not currently working in a green job to understand drivers of the gender gap.
  • We addressed four central research questions about women’s awareness, perceptions, and interest in green jobs.
  • We found that while many women’s perceptions of green roles were positive, certain perceptual barriers hindered some of them from wanting to work in one. For example, many participants had not heard of green jobs and, even among those with STEM experience, several women felt that they did not have the right experience or qualifications to get a job in a green industry.

Our DALL-E exercise also helped to reveal some of the implicit impressions that some women have of green jobs. When asked what came to mind when picturing a green job, responses tended to cluster in two camps. Some pictured green jobs as practical, hands-on roles, while others saw them as office jobs.

Findings

Our findings suggest three main avenues for future interventions to reduce the gender gap in green jobs, each designed to target different barriers and facilitators from our research:

  • communication and awareness
  • targeted messaging towards women
  • a jobsite specifically for green jobs

To help us understand the prevalence of the barriers we’ve uncovered, and how they might differ from those that men might face, we’ll be conducting a representative survey with men and women across the UK that will help us prioritise avenues for potential solutions.

The barriers to working as a heat pump engineer are likely to be different to those faced by prospective food scientists, so we’ll also be diving deeper into the barriers that affect specific green roles and sectors to help us tailor future interventions.