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Gender Diversity on the Radar: Incoming Signals

The oil and gas sector has a reputation for being a boys’ club, but it is slowly opening up to women. The pace of change has been slow, as evidenced by the fact that women still account for less than a quarter of all employees in the industry. But gender diversity initiatives are moving forward. Here are four developments to keep on the radar.

Start them young

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Attendees from St. Margaret’s School for Girls

On July 31, Aberdeen University in Scotland hosted the second annual Women in Engineering Conference, with the aim of encouraging young women to explore careers in the engineering field. The conference featured an interactive program that allowed the 45 teen-aged participants to tackle hands-on engineering challenges and meet with women engineers for mentoring sessions. It also partnered with BP, which gave attendees an opportunity to spend part of a day in its Aberdeen office. Hopefully, more companies and colleges will embrace this initiative geared towards the next generation of energy professionals.

A role for academia

Aberdeen is a hub of the British oil and gas industry, and the university appears to have relished the chance to help cultivate diversity in the sector. “While progress is being made in encouraging women into engineering, the percentage of women in the profession remains low,” said Dr. Igor Guz, the head of Aberdeen University’s engineering department. “Through initiatives like this, we are working to be at the forefront of efforts by schools, universities and industry leaders to tackle this challenge.”

Ask the professors

Speaking of academic perspectives, the Journal of Petroleum Technology published an article on July 30 that included insights from six female professors specializing in energy-related fields. All six spoke to Tatyana Plaksina, an associate professor of petroleum engineering and renewable energy at the University of Calgary, about their work experience, research priorities, and efforts to achieve work-life balance. Gender diversity at the teaching level will only help to promote more women in energy.

Names to know

Meanwhile, InterestingEngineering.com turned to women to provide two of the three examples it gave of different career tracks for petroleum engineers in an article published August 1. It pointed to Lindsey Williams of Chevron, noting that her experience in petroleum engineering has allowed her to rise to the position of reservoir engineer. It also noted that Linda Zarda Cook, now of EIG Global Energy Partners, moved up through the ranks at Royal Dutch/Shell, starting as a petroleum engineer and eventually ending up in the C-suite.

Gender diversity initiatives going forward

There is still a long way to go, and it remains to be seen how many women will join the field over the next 20 years. But this shortlist of developments does show that gender diversity is on the radar of oil and gas professionals. It also demonstrates that women are already making places for themselves within the industry.

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Diversity, Inclusion, and Ally-Ship

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