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Engineering a more diverse energy future

Release date:
18 June 2024
Experienced women engineers have, for decades, been at the forefront of our work to help keep energy flowing. For International Women in Engineering Day, we meet four women enhancing engineering at bp
🕒 6 min read | 📖 Feature

Click on the tabs to read each woman’s story

Ila Glennie

Subsea solutions

As a teen, a career in engineering wasn’t really on Ila’s radar. That changed after a trip to Newcastle University, when she visited the engineering department while she was still in school. 


“Up until that point, I didn’t intend to go to university, and I also didn’t really understand the difference between mechanical, chemical or electrical engineering. That exposure really turned on a light and led me to study mechanical engineering,” she says.


Ila is now vice president of subsea. Her team is working on projects like the cutting-edge Greater Tortue Ahmeyim ultra-deepwater gas development in Mauritania and Senegal, and is operating and maintaining bp's subsea production systems.


Over the course of her nearly 30-year career, she has held a range of roles and worked in countries around the world, including Angola, Egypt, France and the US. She first joined bp in 1996 in the North Sea region, where she was often the only woman posted offshore. 


“I think it’s really important that we see female role models or diverse role models in the organization,” says Ila, who is based just outside London. “One aspect of my role as a manager is to identify and create an inclusive and supportive environment. Making sure that everyone feels welcome, included and able to do their best work.”


While the majority of their work remains focused on oil and gas, the subsea team has recently also got more involved in bp’s lower carbon energy work. They use their subsea skills and expertise on projects like the carbon capture and storage development bp and partners are hoping to build at Teesside in the UK, and on the early stages of bp’s planned offshore wind projects in the Irish and North Seas with partner EnBW.

“The marine environment is just the most amazing kind of office to have,” she says. “With my roles, I have found it possible to combine all the things I love – engineering, science and my passion for travel and languages. It’s such a fulfilling career because the possibilities of things you can get involved in really are endless.” 


And her advice to the young female engineers of tomorrow? 


“The biggest barriers you face may be the ones you put up yourself,” she says. “There really are no limits to what women in engineering can achieve.”


In 2023, women accounted for 15.7% of the UK’s engineering and technology workforce. 

Yvette Baxter-Drayton

Progressing safety

When Yvette first started as a young engineer, she would wear safety clothing designed for men on visits to bp sites. At the time, women’s sizes weren’t easy to come by and they would have to make do with sleeves that were too long or gloves that didn’t fit right.


A lot has changed since then.


“Last month, I was in Houston visiting my team and saw and an all-female company selling safety clothing made especially for women,” says Yvette. “It’s not about looks – you need safety clothing to fit properly. That’s just one example of how having more women in the industry has changed the way we work. If women feel that they are welcome and included, they are more likely to stay and progress in their career. That’s happening now on a far greater level than it was when I first started.” 


Yvette, who was born and raised in Jamaica, joined Amoco (which later became bp) 27 years ago, after getting a PhD in chemical engineering. She now leads a central team of process and process safety engineering subject matter experts that helps the business to solve some of the hard engineering challenges across all of bp’s portfolio. 


“The skill sets that a process engineer or chemical engineer has from working in bp’s refineries or in production are similar to those needed to understand how to safely make hydrogen,” she says. “It shows how engineering skills are transferable and can contribute to the energy transition.”


Yvette says she’d recommend a career in the energy industry to anyone just starting out, given the impact the work can have on people’s everyday lives. 

“In many parts of the world, you can't take it for granted that homes and buildings will always have electricity, or that you will have fuel to run your vehicles,” she says.


“We're providing a service to our customers – and watching our progress with new forms of energy and toward the transition is exciting.”



From 2010 to 2021, the percentage of women in the US working in STEM occupations with a doctoral degree climbed from 31% to 36%. 



Anchala Klein

Engineering well

Wells engineering has gone through some pretty big changes since Anch got her first job. 


First, there’s the work that wells engineers are responsible for. When Anch started her engineering career in 1990, the focus of wells engineers was to help extract oil and gas from under the ground.


Now, while that’s still very much the main focus of the role, her team’s expertise is also being used on prospective lower carbon projects, such as an offshore CO2 carbon capture, transport and storage project being planned in the North Sea, with bp as operator on behalf of the Northern Endurance Partnership. 


“It’s been really interesting for us to see how we can apply our skills to new areas, while continuing to develop and innovate in our core oil and gas business,” says Anch. “It’s a great example of how versatile engineering is.” 


Next, there’s the make-up of her team. At the beginning of her career, Anch was often one of the only woman engineers on projects, especially when she went offshore. 


“I think the diversity of the organization has changed meteorically since I first started, and not only in regard to women, but there is still more that we need to do to attract and retain the best talent,” says Anch, who started working in wells in 2000.


“Everyone brings their own viewpoint, knowledge and background and that only adds to the success of projects. The make-up of our engineering teams is now starting to look more like everyday society. The result is that everyone is more accepting of different ways of thinking and new ideas, which is key in engineering.”

Currently based in London, Anch has travelled all over the world for her work – from Alaska to Australia. Energy is one of the most exciting areas to be involved with at the moment, she says, adding that she would recommend it to anyone considering the field. 


“Don't be afraid to put yourself out there. Opportunities when they come up are to be seized with both hands,” she says. “Always be inquisitive and don’t shy away from asking questions. Everyone is here to help.”


In 2022, there were 7.2 million female scientists and engineers in the EU, accounting for 41% of total employment in science and engineering.


LaToya Stallworth

Bringing others along

LaToya has spent much of her career working on offshore platforms. She’s now responsible for safety and production for two of bp’s largest platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a role she has worked toward since she first joined bp as an intern in 2003.


“There is a real focus on encouraging women to take leadership positions in operations and we have received valuable mentorship and support,” she says. “That support network makes me feel like I can bring my best self to work. When I first started, a senior leader told me I should emulate men. I quickly learned that to build relationships rooted in trust, I needed to be myself. I wear a dress and heels to work every day because that’s what I’m most comfortable in, and I’m a firm believer that you should be able to bring your whole self to work.”


LaToya first joined bp’s production and operations business after getting a degree in chemical engineering. After working offshore early in her career, she knew she wanted to eventually be an offshore installation manager (OIM). To pursue her goal, she took an education leave of absence to get an MBA and, after graduating, went on to work for bp in Angola and the Gulf of Mexico. She landed her dream role as OIM in 2018 and last year, was promoted to her current position, as area production manager.


“In each of the roles I’ve had, I’ve made it a priority to develop people and their skill sets,” she says. “In Angola, for example, there were no Angolans on the PSVM oil development leadership team, so my goal was to make that leadership team look more like the country we were in.” 

Now, as a leader of other managers, developing her team is still her passion, especially when it comes to mentoring other women in engineering and operations.

“My personal mission is to help other women and minorities have successful careers in operations,” she says.


“I’m constantly sharing my experiences to help future women leaders in operations and engineering. I hope that other women and minorities are doing the same for the next generation.”


In the US, the percentage of female engineers varies by specialization. For example, in 2022, 9% of electrical engineers and 32% of environmental engineers were women.



About International Women in Engineering Day

International Women in Engineering Day was originally set up by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) as a national campaign to raise the profile of female engineers and encourage more young women and girls to take up engineering careers, with events and activities organized across the globe.


This year, the theme is #EnhancedByEngineering. It profiles those who have enhanced people’s everyday lives and are helping to build towards a brighter future.


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