The Future is Female Part 2- How to make a Career in Oil & Gas possible

The Future is Female Part 2- How to make a Career in Oil & Gas possible

December 6, 2019

In part one of the article about women in the Oil & Gas industry, I described that positive female role models might lead to a higher interest in STEM studies.

But let’s stay focused on the here and now.

Why do women leave Oil & Gas companies after a while?

According to the McKinsey study, there are two main hurdles for women who started at an Oil & Gas company: First to get promoted into management and second to get promoted to the senior vice president level.

Why is it so difficult to get promoted into management?  I do not have the exact answer but have some thoughts on which hurdles could be on the way. Mothers traditionally still are spending more time taking care of children than fathers. As you might know, some daycare centers have opening times which you can not fulfill if you work fulltime. So someone has to work less in order to fetch the children from daycare. Guess what, who will work part-time? The partner with the highest salary? Exactly. There you go.

The above mentioned McKinsey study states that there are almost three times as many women in senior roles in E&P and downstream companies than in oil-field services and upstream companies.  Since the work in upstream is mainly at the front line, these companies might not be appealing for women who would rather prefer to stay at home with the family instead of being in the Russian tundra for months.

A career at the senior vice president level

It is quite obvious that hurdle 1 decreases the number of possible female candidates for the senior vice president level. If it is not possible to get promoted to the manager level, you don’t even have a chance to get promoted to the senior vice president level.  In numbers, for every 100 men who get promoted to the Senior Vice President level in Oil & Gas companies, only 40 women are.

Maybe it is also part of unconscious bias that women are not taken into consideration when you look for possible candidates internally.

How can you make a career for women in Oil & Gas more attractive?

Nowadays, women should not have to face the choice of whether to decide for a career or a family. The employer and the state should provide an infrastructure where combining a family and a career can be possible. One disadvantage for families is the fact that oil & gas projects are often in very remote places and across the globe. As a young aspiring project manager, you might be craving for adventure and think it is very inspiring to get to travel all over the world. If you have a family, your priorities may change. In times of digitalization, shouldn’t it be possible to skype and to solve issues from remote? Further: Is every travel really necessary? Flexible working hours should also be a standard, not a bonus. Same for working from home.

Honestly, how many men do you know that actually took paternity leave? Maybe a little financial bonus like topping up two months of the parental allowance would be beneficial from the employer’s side.

Also, O&G companies should focus on recruiting female graduates for entry positions. They should clearly emphasize the benefits of working for them and also develop the new female employees further, so they can grow into a manager role. Support the talent of the future!

Further, work on the company’s image. Emphasize what you actually do in terms of sustainability. The Oil & Gas industry does not have to be a “dirty” industry. There is no energy turnover overnight.

Daycare centers should adapt to the modern-life fulltime working hours and provide longer opening hours. The positive side effect would also mean more jobs in the daycare business.

Thoughts for the future

Maybe there will be an equitable gender distribution in Oil & Gas one day? Together with an Oil & Gas industry that gets more and more sustainable? Do you think that is just an utopia or a possible reality in the near future?




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