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How Equal is Equal?

More women are taking advantage of opportunities in the oil and gas industry.
This article appeared in Vol. 11, No. 1 - 2015

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The results of a recent online ‘Global Diversity and Inclusion’ survey of over 3,000 oil and gas professionals worldwide suggests that career prospects for women in the hydrocarbon industry have improved in recent years and an increasing number of women are taking advantage of those opportunities. However, there remain social and discriminatory barriers to overcome in an industry which is still dominated by men.

The survey, conducted by BP in conjunction with Rigzone, invited respondents to comment on a variety of issues, in order to examine female representation in the energy workplace. Topics covered included asking if career prospects in the industry have improved for women in recent years; how important it is that the sector is attractive to women; and whether there is pay parity or gender-based discrimination in the industry. For example, 20% of respondents ‘strongly agreed’ that gender-based discrimination occurs in the energy workplace, citing societal conditioning, a lack of qualified candidates and family care responsibilities as the most significant barriers to increasing the proportion of women in the industry - although 12% ‘strongly disagreed’ that gender discrimination existed. Similarly, over half of those surveyed think that it is important that the oil and gas industry ensures it is an attractive employment sector for women, while 23% think that this is not important.

About three-quarters of the respondents believe that career prospects for women within the industry have improved in recent years, although there was an interesting regional disparity, with 78% of Canadian respondents agreeing, but only 63% from Europe. And although nearly half of those questioned believe gender plays a role in setting pay, only 36% actually said that male oil and gas professionals are more highly paid than their female counterparts.

Mentoring and Flexible Working

While all respondents agreed that transparency in remuneration structure, availability of mentoring and sponsorship programmes, and flexible working arrangements are important, female respondents placed more importance on mentoring and pay transparency, while male respondents considered childcare-specific benefits more important – and both men and women placed value on flexible work arrangements when selecting an employer. About two-thirds of the women questioned think it important to see female representation at senior level, while 27% of men think this actually unimportant.

These statistics point to progress in gender equality. However, the most compelling statistic was hidden not in the results but in the details of the survey demographics. 

Of the over 3,000 people who responded to the survey, nearly 90% were male.

The majority of people surveyed believe that the number of women working in the oil and gas industry has increased in recent years. (Inclusion Report BP/Rigzone 2013 Global Diversity) Global Diversity and Inclusion Report - BP & Rigzone 

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