Lauren D’Amico ’16 reflects on her summer internship and the gender gap in the oil and gas industry

This past summer I had an amazing opportunity to work for one of the leading natural gas producers in the United States. My journey began in Oklahoma City at the Company’s headquarters. As a first year intern I was excited to officially meet the other 80 some inters in the program. As I headed into the massive conference room I quickly noted I was the only woman in the room. Of course, I was very early and about 15 other women trickled in before the conference started. From the moment I walked into the conference from the moment I left, I was aware of the gender gap. I found myself inwardly struggling with wanting to be me, bubbly, sociable, and feminine but more than this I wanted people to take me seriously in the male dominated environment.

An interesting article was released by the Houston Journal a few days ago that speaks well to my experience in the energy industry. “The World of Roughness Presents It’s ‘Softer Side’”, by Ryan Holeywell highlights the intensely male-dominated oil and gas industry and the need/want for more female participants. Halliburton is one of the world’s largest oilfield service with operations is over 80 countries. Halliburton has been one of the first to recognize the demand for more female participants in the industry. According to the American Petroleum Institute the total female makeup of oil/gas/petrochemical workforce is 19%.

To counteract the ratio of women to men in this type of industry it has proven successful to have female recruiters for companies instead of males. Energy companies are also now sending highly ranked women to speak at campus events as an example for the potential of women in the industry. Oil and Gas companies are also providing employee on campus daycare programs, generous maternity leave policies, flexible work schedule, and a greater say when it comes to relocation.

More companies are starting to believe that a more diverse group can lead to a better pool of thinkers. For this reasoning BP’s Global Head of Talent Attraction and Candidate Experience, Linda Emery, states that BP wants women to comprise 25% of its group leaders by 2020, up from the current 18%. Emery states that it is critical they recruit the best talent and this talent is not restricted to just males or just females.

Although efforts are rising to close the gender gap according to NES Global Talent a quarter of female engineers in the oil and gas industry still feel as though their presence is unwelcome. A non-profit, National Diversity Council, published a list of the top 50 most powerful women in the oil and gas industry earlier this year. Corporate counsel, marketing executives, and human resource directors conquered the list not leaders in drilling, exploration, or production.

As a women who is very interested in the oil and gas industry and a first hand witness to the gender gap these findings were very interesting. Although there is still much work to be done I feel as though companies are taking initiative in addressing the core problems and furthermore taking steps to make a more diverse workforce.

A link to the article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/article/The-world-of-roughnecks-presents-its-softer-side-5799587.php?cmpid=email-premium&t=39ed69707d81750c0d#/0

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