This article reviews the empirical literature about gender and productive uses of energy, focusing on electricity, to answer three research questions: do men and women obtain different benefits from the Productive Use of Electricity (PUE)?; which gendered constraints affect women’s chances to benefit from the PUE; and which interventions work to achieve gender equity in the PUE?
We find that PUE literature has so far considered gender mainly at the household level, by looking at the labour supply effects of access to electricity. However, the role of enterprises as labour absorbers and income generators, has been devoid of gender considerations. This omission is significant because women tend to operate in smaller and less energy intensive enterprises, and hence can draw less benefits from PUE interventions. The wider literature on gender and labour markets offers valuable insights about the constraints that explain performance differentials between male and female led enterprises. However, this literature is dominated by experimental and quasi-experimental approaches unable to capture the complexity in which gendered PUE interventions would operate. We draw from the insights provided by these different strands of literature, but further recommend a mixed methods approach to advance the research agenda about gender and PUE.