Growing green economy lacks women, despite higher earnings, lower wage gap

New research by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) provides the first ever state-by-state estimates of women’s share of green jobs in the U.S., and finds a smaller wage gap in the green economy overall.

WASHINGTON — New research by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) provides the first ever state-by-state estimates of women’s share of green jobs in the U.S., and finds a smaller wage gap in the green economy overall. While women hold about half all jobs in the country, they hold only three out of ten (29.5%) jobs in the growing green economy, and their underrepresentation is particularly marked in jobs expected to grow the most.

Women are missing from the fastest growing green occupations. For example, many new jobs are expected to be added for HVAC technicians, but fewer than 2% of HVAC technicians in the U.S. are women.

In 33 states, women in green jobs earn at least $1,000 more per year for full-time year-round work than women in the overall economy. Overall, the national gender wage gap for women in the green economy was 18% in 2010, compared to 22% in the economy as a whole. Women in Maryland do best in the green economy, with a gender wage gap of 8%, compared with a gender wage gap of 19% for all full-time, year-round working women in Maryland, according to 2010 data.

There are large variations between the states in the gap between women’s share of green jobs and all jobs overall. Washington, D.C., has the smallest gap at four percentage points while Maine has the largest at 24 percentage points.

“This research shows a striking absence of women in mid-level technical occupations in the green economy,” said Ariane Hegewisch, study director at IWPR and lead author of the study, Quality Employment for Women in the Green Economy: Industry, Occupation, and State-by-State Job Estimates. “Even more striking is the lack of discussion of this drastic gender imbalance in green jobs reports by state-level workforce development agencies.”

“As green technologies are becoming more integrated, we have an opportunity to tackle the virtual absence of women and girls from the well-paid technical careers that utilize these advances,” said Dr. Heidi Hartmann, president of IWPR. 

The Institute for Women's Policy Research is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families.

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