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The career-oriented woman has definitely come a long way. Driven women are no longer restricted to basic office roles and administrative support. There is nothing that should stop women with the right skills and qualifications from benefiting from a successful career, even in the Oil and Gas Industry. In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in the participation of women in O&G.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and IBIS World narrowed down six industries in the US that offer unique employment advantages for women, they are characterized by a strong growth in revenue and employment, particularly in the number of female workers. Oil and Gas ranked third with an 11.6% growth per year in the number of female employees (based on 2009-2013 figures). Leading are Tire Manufacturing with 16.8% growth and E-Commerce with 15.5% growth. In the first quarter of 2013, women filled nearly one-third of the jobs added in the upstream oil and natural gas sector. Once more, a recent report from IHS Global suggests that by 2030 the industry could add 185,000 more women to its ranks.
It’s more than just gender-equality…
Technological advances led to strong demands in energy which in turn directed the boom in the O&G sector. Industry revenue has significantly increased the job opportunities available, not just for work that requires significant physical strength but also for technical positions that can maximize the pool of female employees. This move is not just about creating a gender-diverse workforce but more importantly is the need to serve and supply the world’s energy needs.
What the industry is doing to attract women…
Working in the Oil and Gas industry is often characterized by hard physical labor, remote work locations, and long shifts. In the past, this has discouraged women from working in the Oil and Gas sector, especially if they have a family to take care of. Now, Oil and Gas companies are working hard to address the issues that are preventing or discouraging women to participate in this industry. The industry should continue to focus on attracting women employees through these measures:
- Encourage young women to pursue a path in engineering and technology. It is important that opportunities are created at a young age.
- Provide flexible work arrangements.
- Change the perception that this is a male-dominated workforce where employees are depicted as strong men wearing hard hats drilling oil from a remote location. Women need to be made aware that there are opportunities in project management, finance and business development.
- Foster gender-inclusive work environments. Although 75% of women felt welcome working in the O&G industry, 45% say they do not get the same recognition as men, they expressed that they are paid less and have to work twice as hard as men do to prove themselves.
- Be aware that women expect career stability, personal growth, diversity of opportunities, and constant challenge. This will make them encourage other women to join the industry.
- Support female employees, assist them in reaching their career goals, promote mentoring and sponsorship, specifically with female role models or women represented at the top level of the company.
Successful women in O&G…
The Oil & Gas Diversity Council recognized the 50 Most Powerful Women in Oil and Gas – the most prominent leaders in the industry (see the list at oilgasdiversitycouncil.org). This list shows women that have reached the top of their profession by being effective leaders in their organization. They drive change, innovate and inspire others to succeed while contributing to business growth.
The future of women in the Oil and Gas industry is expected to be a positive one; however, this will depend on how we handle the current situation and move forward. The industry acknowledges that it still has a long way to go in terms of a gender-balanced workforce. It is essential that companies continue to recognize the opportunities that increasing women’s participation – and retention – in the industry will improve their business productivity, hence, meet the ever-growing global energy demands.