The Future is Female Part One

The Future is Female Part One

November 8, 2019

After emerging from a downturn, the UK  oil and gas industry needs to recruit over 40.000 people by 2035. This is the result of a study conducted by the Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organization (OPITO) in cooperation with the Robert Gordon University Oil and Gas Institute. The workforce is aging and new skills like data analytics, robotics or machine learning are needed.

What is the current gender ratio in Oil&Gas?

According to recent McKinsey research, companies with a significant number of female leaders are 21 percent more likely profitable than their competitors. So the future is definitely female!

But the Oil&Gas industry is suffering from declining interest from the next talent generation.  Currently, O&G is the 35th most attractive employer among engineering and IT students. A decade ago, it ranked place 14. Today, only 15 percent of the O&G workforce are women.

One thing is for sure: Companies need new talents and the battle among hiring the best talents is high. It is crucial for the O&G industry to diversify its workforce and to hire new talents. In McKinsey’s O&G study, 50% of the interviewed 250 O&G companies did not have at least one female leader in their top management. Comparing O&G with 18 other industries, O&G scored last for women at entry-level and second last for  C-Suite. In the STEM ranking, O&G scored last. This sounds quite frustrating, isn’t it?

How to fill the gender gap

O&G companies are not able to retain their female employees. As you noticed from the example, 50% of 250 companies did not have one female leader in their top management. So chances for women to get promoted into senior and C-Level Management are low. Of course, this issue is also noticeable in other industries, but with an already low entry-level, the consequences for Oil&Gas are more fierce.

Among entry-level employees in the O&G industry, only a third are female. Compared with other STEM industries, the number is 41 percent. in the overall corporate world, 48 percent of all entry-level employees are female. Still, women are underrepresented in studies like mechanical engineering or electrical engineering.  This is a structural problem.

More women in STEM studies

Still, women in equal countries like Germany or the Netherlands tend to study rather humanities or social sciences than STEM studies. In fact, the percentage of female STEM students is higher in countries like Algeria, a country with high inequality.  Which advantages would females have if they would study a STEM major? Higher salary alone is not appealing for generation Y and Z.  Is it easier to study a STEM subject? Not at all. The drop out rate is still very high.  So what are the benefits of studying a STEM subject? You have the chance to work on the challenges of our time: Climate change, Cyber Security, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Transformation, Smart Health- just to name a few. You can actively contribute to a new and better future.

So the first task is: Get more women into STEM studies! Raise the interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics already in school. Show them role models! There were female scientists in the past and there still are! Some weeks ago, I went to a children’s birthday party as a guest. I was quite surprised that all the 5-year-old girls were dressed up as little princesses. The full package with a huge pink princess dress, a cape, and a sparkling crown. Now I do not want to start a discussion about whether girls should wear pink or not.  But why do girls love to dress up as a princess? Why don’t they want to be “Bob the builder”? Or a princess and a builder? Dear authors of children’s books and series, it’s about time for new role models.

Over 30% of women in STEM studies should be possible in the near future.

My recommendation for O&G companies: Invite girls on “Girls’ day” to your company. Show them how it would be to work in the STEM industry.

But overcoming the low number of female STEM students is only the first hurdle. In the second part of this article, I will discuss the hurdles that women in Oil&Gas encounter at work.

Picture credits: freebird7977-

Resources:  Delivering through diversity, McKinsey Study, January 2018

UKCS:  Workforce Dynamics: The skills landscape 2019-2025 




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