Posted June 4, 2015
A big event in Denver this week, highlighting the career opportunities for women in the oil and natural gas industry. “Women in Power” was attended by about 150 of Denver’s most influential female leaders and launched a larger Colorado initiative designed to help attract women to the industry and to retain them for life-long careers.
The Denver event was keynoted by Democratic strategist Celinda Lake and Republican strategist Linda DiVall, co-authors of a study released earlier this year that found the chief factor in increasing female representation in the oil and natural gas industry workforce is making them aware of the benefits of industry employment – including pay and security benefits and the chance for career advancement. DiVall:
“Women currently make up 19 percent of the workforce in the oil and natural gas industry, but this booming industry is set to add 1.3 million jobs by 2030. Clearly, recruiting more women is critical in order for the oil and gas industry to meet its future workforce needs.”
That’s true. Industry expects to need to fill 1.3 million jobs through 2030 because of baseline growth from pro-development policies and capital investments, as well as the need to replace retiring workers. A 2014 study by IHS projects that women could account for 185,000 of those jobs, of which nearly 70,000 are projected in professional and managerial positions such as engineers, accountants, general managers and geoscientists – jobs that typically require a four-year degree. Lake said communicating opportunity is essential to attracting women to oil and natural gas careers:
“Even before hearing any specific information about the industry, a majority of women say they are willing to work in the industry. And after hearing about the benefits and possible tradeoffs that the industry provides, the number of women interested in a position in the industry increases.”
The benefits of an oil and natural gas industry career start with well-paying jobs. According to average annual wage data from the Bureau of Lobar Statistics, the average pay in the oil and gas industry is nearly $50,000 higher than the U.S. average (chart). Education and training is critical – especially in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields where women have low representation in degrees conferred.
More events are planned this month in the Colorado initiative – “Women Rocking the Rockies” on June 18 to further explore career paths for women in the industry, and a June 26 event for female students in grades 6-11 designed to increase enthusiasm for the STEM fields. Tracee Bentley, executive director of the Colorado Petroleum Council, said the campaign will let women know they can thrive in industry careers:
“There are excellent job opportunities for women and other underrepresented groups in this field. Women working in or interested in oil and natural gas in our region will have a forum to network and share their experiences and insights.”
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.