Report highlights challenges for women in oil and gas

NES Global Talent has launched a new report highlighting the key issues and challenges women face in the global oil and gas industry, flagging possible solutions to tackle the gender gap.

The report ‘Attracting and retaining women in oil and gas engineering – a survey examining the gender talent gap’, highlights the myriad of pathways women are taking to find careers in oil and gas, underscoring the opportunities the sector has to cross-train from ancillary industries as well as non-traditional disciplines. In fact, 44 per cent of respondents stated that they had worked in industries including building and construction, law and retail before moving into oil and gas.

The report also shows that in order to attract and retain female workers, the industry needs to improve its ability to provide mentorship, recognise workers equally and highlight the benefits of studying STEM subjects in schools and universities. 

In a statement Neil Tregarthen, CEO at NES Global Talent, said: ‘The encouraging news is that the vast majority of female employees feel welcome in the sector and say they would recommend a career in oil and gas engineering to others. However, 45 per cent say they do not get the same recognition as men. There may be issues of perception and reality here, but undoubtedly the topic needs to be better managed, if the sector is to become more attractive to women. Many respondents said they are paid less, have fewer opportunities than their male counterparts and have to work harder than men to prove themselves and again there are clear improvements to be made, if the oil and gas sector is to attract larger numbers of female engineers in the future.’

Some 95 per cent of respondents to the survey see mentors as important for career advancement, but 42 per cent are not involved in any form of mentoring. In line with many other sectors and roles, the implementation of formal mentoring programmes would be an important step in supporting the most talented women engineers to progress to senior positions in the oil and gas industry and in doing so, become the role models of tomorrow.

Commenting on the report, Averil Macdonald, Professor of Science Engagement at Reading University, states that creative recruitment techniques executed with women in mind will also help with attraction. ’Oil and gas sector companies should focus on engaging with young women both at school and at university, providing role models and an opportunity to see for themselves what the sector has to offer through visits and paid internships.  This will ensure that oil and gas companies lead the way amongst engineering employers in benefiting from the untapped talent of those female engineers whose skills will, otherwise, be recognised and rewarded elsewhere,’ she said.

The survey also found that 39 per cent of respondents would consider taking less money in return for more work flexibility, with many citing a better work life balance and spending more time with the family as the main reasons.

The survey in figures:

18 per cent of respondents had worked in the oil and gas sector for less than a year,

40 per cent for 1 – 5 years,

26 per cent for 6 – 10 years,

8 per cent for 11 – 15 years,

4 per cent for 16 – 20 years,

2 per cent for 21 – 25 years

and 2 per cent for 25 years plus.

15 per cent were aged under 25 years,

56 per cent were aged 25 – 34 years,

17 per cent were aged 35 – 44 years,

9 per cent were aged 45 – 54 years,

2 per cent were aged 55 years plus

and 1 per cent said they would rather not say