The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Energy Jobs and Women

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted February 7, 2015

The oil and natural gas industry expects to have 1.3 million jobs that will need to be filled through 2030 – the product of baseline growth, pro-development policies, capital investments and the need to replace retiring workers. That means opportunity. A 2014 IHS study for industry projected that women could account for 185,000 of these jobs.

The key is finding them. New research by American Viewpoint and Lake Research Partners, illuminating the attitudes and perceptions of women seeking employment in the oil and natural gas industry, could help. The firms conducted a series of focus groups with women between the ages of 18 and 44 – in addition to a national survey of 1,200 women in the same age group.

First, the most important factors to women when considering a job opportunity:

factors

Certainly, the oil and natural gas industry is well positioned to meet those needs and recruit women in the expansion of its workforce. The overwhelming majority of respondents say they’ve never applied for a job with the oil and natural gas industry – just 3 percent say they have. The study found this is largely the result of a lack of awareness and understanding of the jobs and career development opportunities industry offers:

  • 19 percent of respondents said they didn’t think they had the right background for a job in oil and natural gas
  • 19 percent said they thought industry jobs were outside their field
  • 17 percent said they didn’t know industry was hiring
  • 8 percent said they had simply never thought about working for industry


The perceptions are real and suggest the need for industry to more effectively communicate its needs and openness to women (as well as African Americans and Hispanics, who also were part of the 2014 study’s projections).

Women who were part of the attitudes and perceptions study suggested that industry create an educational campaign that introduces industry to women, showcase women who already work in industry – especially younger women workers – and communicate the variety of available job occupations and their qualifications. The study:

The things women are seeking—passion, flexibility, good pay, and opportunity—are the very things that women in the oil and gas industry say they like about their jobs. … Understanding the factors covered in the survey—financial pressures women struggle with; factors that motivate women when considering employment; barriers that keep women from entering the industry; and messages about oil and gas that resonate most—can help the industry better shape recruitment efforts.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.