Career prospects for women in the oil and gas industry have improved in recent years and an increasing number of women are taking advantage of those opportunities, according to the majority of energy professionals in the inaugural Global Diversity and Inclusion Report.
The study conducted by BP, the international oil and gas company, and Rigzone, the leading online resource for the oil and gas industry, examined female representation in the energy workplace from the perspective of 3,000 oil and gas professionals.
While nearly three-quarters of respondents (72%) believed oil and gas remains a male-dominated industry, and there is still a lot of progress to be made, the majority of energy professionals said it was quite or very important for the oil and gas industry to ensure it is attractive to women. This finding is particularly relevant given nearly nine out of ten survey respondents were male.
The industry's progress may be most notable in respondents' thoughts about the future. More than 60% said they expect the greatest increases in female representation to be among professionals just entering the industry and those early in their career.
Kirsty Bashforth, Group Head of Organizational Effectiveness, BP, commented: "We want women to know that the oil and gas industry has made tremendous strides in recent years and that it offers opportunities not provided by other sectors. Whether working internationally or domestically, onshore or offshore, the possibilities are endless. While the industry acknowledges it still has work to do in terms of a gender balanced pool of talent, the results of this survey demonstrate that industry initiatives and programs to engage women about careers in oil and gas are making an impact and we need to keep focused for them to continue to do so."
"At BP, we work to attract, motivate, develop and retain the best talent from the diversity the world offers -- our ability to be competitive and to thrive globally depends on it. Women, which represented nearly 32 percent of BP's hires last year, are playing an increasingly vital role in the effort. For BP, diversity and inclusion is not a 'nice to have.' It's a 'must have.'"
The survey uncovered the barriers and challenges women frequently face in the oil and gas industry, as well as potential solutions for increasing female representation. One in five (20%) strongly agreed gender based discrimination occurs within the industry and respondents cited societal conditioning, a lack of qualified candidates and family care responsibilities as most significant barriers to increasing the proportion of women in the industry. Implementing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs in schools, offering flexible working arrangements and implementing company goals to encourage an improved gender balance were cited as the most important ways to increase female representation.
"We'll never have the best industry if we can't attract the best talent regardless of gender," said Paul Caplan, President of Rigzone. "While barriers still exist and companies can do more to ensure fairness, an oil and gas career offers tremendous global career opportunities, complex problems to solve and above average pay – all reasons talented professionals should consider energy first."
When it comes to selecting an employer, male and female oil and gas professionals were united on the top three decision points: transparency in remuneration structure, availability of mentoring and sponsorship programs and flexible working arrangements. However, female respondents placed more importance than male respondents on mentoring and sponsorship programs and pay transparency, while male respondents placed more importance on companies offering childcare specific benefits. At the same time, both men and women placed nearly equal importance on flexible work arrangements when selecting an employer.
In respect of pay, nearly half (47%) of respondents believed gender plays a role in setting remuneration. However, when asked specifically who is more highly paid, just 36% of respondents said male oil and gas professionals are more highly paid than female oil and gas professionals and 44% of oil and gas professionals noted they believe pay is comparable between the genders.
While 62% of respondents felt the number of women working in oil and gas has increased globally, 80% of oil and gas professionals in South America agreed with this statement compared to only 52% in Europe, the lowest proportion from any work region.
Encouragingly, respondents based in both Africa (60%) and Asia (64%) agreed or strongly agreed that women have equal opportunities to men for advancement to management positions in the oil and gas industry compared to 54% globally.
Canada had the highest proportion of respondents (78%) who said career prospects had improved for women, while European-based energy professionals had the lowest proportion of respondents (35%) that believed gender discrimination was common in the industry.
Finally, respondents in the U.S. were more positive about the career prospects for women in the industry, with 75% believing they have improved in recent years. A slightly greater percentage also agreed that gender diversity has improved in recent years. However, 31% of U.S. oil and gas professionals believe they have lost out professionally due to their gender and not their ability. This is the highest proportion of respondents from any region globally.
The Global Diversity and Inclusion survey was administered online and oil and gas professionals registered on Rigzone were invited to participate in the survey through an email invitation. More than 3,000 energy professionals responded to the survey, with 26% working in North America, 24% in Asia Pacific, 17% in the Middle East, 14% from Europe, and 12% and 7% from Central, South America and the Caribbean and Africa respectively.
BP is one of the world's largest oil and gas companies, serving millions of customers every day in more than 80 countries, and employing nearly 85,000 people. BP's business segments are oil and gas exploration & production, and refining & marketing. In alternative energies, BP has low- and no-carbon wind and biofuels businesses. Through these activities, BP provides fuel for transportation; energy for heat and light; services for motorists; and petrochemicals products for plastics, textiles and food packaging. It has strong positions in many of the world's hydrocarbons basins and strong market positions in key economies.
Rigzone, a Dice Holdings Inc. service, is a leading online resource for the oil and gas industry delivering content, data, advertising and career services. Dedicated to bringing upstream oil and gas news and data, including in-depth information on exploration, drilling and production markets to organizations tackling the energy challenge, its online community of highly-skilled and experienced energy professionals is unmatched. www.rigzone.com