Women in Energy Summit sheds light on females in oil and gas

Thursday 1 May 2014

A recent event in the US has shed light on diversity in the oil and gas sector. Hosted by Ohio congressman Bill Johnson, the Women in Energy Summit acted to improve awareness of opportunities in the industry.

"This is an industry that is going to be a job creator for both men and women, and we need to make sure they know about it," Mr Johnson said.

Part of the discussion centred around improving STEM skills in order to take the sector into the future.

In the UK, this has already become an issue and experts have cited this as key to combating the skills shortage across multiple sectors.

Women have historically leaned more towards the arts and it has been deemed crucial that systems are put in place to encourage females into the STEM subjects.

The gender lines can clearly be seen in the global oil and gas industry. Panelist at the Women in Energy Summit, Callie Zazzi, from Enervest, said: "Although women make up 50 per cent of the United States, according to a 2013 Society of Petroleum Engineering report only 12 per cent of women make up our industry. The energy industry has recognised the need for women and has vowed to increase diversity through strategic recruiting. Wouldn't it be great if we could increase that number to 25 per cent by just 2020?"

PwC previously observed in its 'Building Talent from the Top' report that in the UK women account for just 11 per cent of seats on the board of directors in the oil and gas sector. The only industry that is worse is mining.

Females hold 13 per cent of non-executive roles and one per cent of executive roles. In Britain, there is a limited pipeline of women in senior management positions. Of the eight per cent of seats held by females on management boards, 30 per cent are corporate secretaries or part of legal counsel.

To change the dynamic, PwC recommends encouraging women to go into technical subjects at school, keeping them motivated throughout their career and trying to create a more flexible work-life balance.

For females, becoming a limited company contractor can help with this. As a self-employed professional it is possible to choose when, where and on what you work. This helps individuals plan their life around family commitments.

In the US, there are indications that conditions are improving in the oil and gas industry. The IHS Minority and Female Employment in the Oil and Gas and Petrochemical Industries study showed that by 2030 180,000 job opportunities will be filled by women.

However, there is more to be done. Speaking in December 2013, Simon Coton, managing director at NES Global Talent, said: "While a great deal is being done to encourage young women to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the STEM subjects, this gender disparity continues to exist. We have heard stories of clients not wanting to publicise the women they do have on their books, for fear of them getting poached by rival firms."

By Victoria McDonnell

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