Transitions toward a low-carbon future are not only technical and economical, but also deeply social and gendered. The gendered nature of energy transitions is often implicit and unexplored.

As a corrective, this paper explores energy pathways by applying concepts from innovations and gender studies. We examine gender perspectives and niche energy innovations which could disrupt the regime. The regime represents the mainstream pathway that includes the dominant gender perspective and energy system.

The paper explores different gender perspectives of energy transition pathways by applying an Alternative Pathways framework that includes: (1) on-stream pathways that exist within the mainstream pathway to promote equal opportunities for women and men, as well as niches for energy innovations without challenging the high-carbon energy regime; (2) off-stream pathways that depart from the mainstream and promote differences across different genders while creating niches outside the energy regime; and (3) transformative pathways that are fundamentally different from the previous mainstream and includes all gender perspectives in a new energy regime.

Applying this framing, in Canada, the paper explored Indigenous perspectives in the oil sands sector; in Kenya, the paper studied large-scale renewable energy impacting Indigineous communities; in Spain, the movement away from fossil fuels and towards renewable technologies. The framework helped to identify that mainstream pathways represented the dominant male perspective while woman’s perspective were largely left out. Such absence generate energy pathways that are disconnected from local realities, lack public buy-in and slow-down a sustainable energy transition.