Invisible Opportunities


Experience Energy would like to shine a spotlight on one of the aspects to industry culture that often goes unnoticed: job postings.

In a recent article in the ‘Modern Diplomacy’ magazine, they discuss how women and new grads can inadvertently disadvantage themselves when it comes to finding industry jobs or following trends in hiring. As the article states, “in a volatile industry, such information and access to networks and training can make a significant difference in recruitment or advancement.”

There is an adage in oil and gas: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. The article sums up the problem this creates for many women, particularly in emerging industries. “A lack of information also means that the barriers faced by women in conventional sectors, such as oil and gas, can persist in their emerging counterparts, such as clean energy.”

The Numbers Don't Lie

Ernst & Young conducted a survey in 2017 of 1,200 Americans below the age of 20. It showed a gender gap: a much greater percentage of young men found oil and gas appealing compared to young women – 54% versus 24%. 

Over 62% of respondents said a career in oil and gas was either ‘unappealing’ or ‘very unappealing’. 

In contrast, two-thirds of those polled, with no significant gender difference, said that a job working in renewable energy was ‘appealing’.

The article highlights how spotting and acting on industry trends is an important skill to develop in our business. “Employment in the energy sector can be volatile. Fluctuations in world energy prices; growth of the sector in emerging economies and developing countries; the politics of climate change and energy transitions; conflicts over land and water resources with Indigenous populations; new resource discoveries; and technological change all have the potential to shake up the industry.”

 In other words, anticipating the energy disrupters on the horizon can help a woman future-proof her professional future. “Being aware of the implications of these changes is key to building a successful career.”

Networks Still Matter

Networks are important sources of tips about where a business is headed. The article posits that male networks support each other in making career transitions earlier and in higher numbers than women. 

In other words, women have more “stickiness” to their jobs and companies, which might be a disadvantage in an industry in constant disruption. 

“For example, 25 percent of students studying to be wind turbine technicians at the Lethbridge College Wind Turbine 

Technician program in Alberta, Canada were once oil and gas workers. Recent media reports in Canada also note that oil and gas workers in Alberta are increasingly seeking and finding employment in the clean energy sector.”

The article highlights that women often aren’t aware of the huge range of support occupations and specializations outside of the technical field. “The energy sector is more than just engineers, research scientists or equipment installers – the sector draws upon expertise and skills from diverse backgrounds in environmental science, ecology, conservation, engineering, business management, law, public policy and finance.”

Put Yourself Out There- Literally

One suggestion to address these gaps in knowledge and networks is to take time to nurture internal as well as external professional networks. 

Join mentor groups such as Lean In Energy. For students, join an energy or technology group on campus with access to professionals in the field. 

Return-ships, internships, externships and sabbaticals can all refresh one’s perspective as well as career opportunities. Joining advocacy organizations like Pink Petro is another.

The article also recommends women train themselves up to work across and inside sectors. For instance, not just getting a degree in petroleum-specific technologies but to look for ways to get data analytics or renewable experience also. 

The skills gap is real and wide, and the more proactive women can be, the more they can benefit later. Industry skills shortages are a challenge for the business, but an opportunity for you the individual. Being able to surf the rough waters of industry trends will allow you to land on firm ground in the long run.

To read the original Modern Diplomacy article, go here.