Posted March 6, 2018
API started hosting its “Women in Energy” reception at the IHS CERAWeek conference a few years ago to highlight the contributions of women in our industry, as well as the opportunities for future careers.
This is critically important as industry builds its workforce of the future – one that’s increasingly diverse, harnessing the intellect, skills, creativity and worldviews of all people, particularly women and minorities. It’s a big part of sustaining and growing our industry’s ability to effectively engage the world to come. Our industry supports 10.3 million jobs, and a recent study estimates it will have 1.9 million direct job opportunities through 2035 – hundreds of thousands of them filled by women and minorities.
This year’s “Women in Energy” reception drew more than 200 people, who heard remarks from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and API President and CEO Jack Gerard, and also Emma Cochrane, ExxonMobil’s vice president of liquefied natural gas.
Cochrane, who has been with ExxonMobil her entire career spanning more than three decades, said women in the natural gas and oil industry are on a continuing journey – one she expects will result in more and more women reaching senior leadership positions:
“We’re not done. We are making progress, things are improving. … It starts with a focus on STEM for our young girls in school, trying to get them excited by careers in the energy industry.”
Cochrane said in addition to preparing young women for industry careers by getting them into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines, more work needs to be done to instill in them excitement for what an energy career can mean:
“This is an amazing place for us all to be. Working in energy is pretty inspiring. You’ve got the technology challenge, you’ve got the business challenge, you’ve got geopolitics – all sorts of things going on. There’s nowhere more exciting to be than the energy industry, making a difference in providing energy access in the emerging world.”
Secretary Zinke talked about the importance of energy to the United States’ economic and national security. He said domestic natural gas and oil production means producing energy in ways that are more beneficial to the environment:
“It is better to produce energy in the United States under reasonable regulation than to watch it be produced overseas with [little regulation]. And as a SEAL – I spent 23 years in the SEALs – and I can tell you that I’ve been to a lot of places where environmentally, you want to look at how not to produce energy, I’d invite you on a tour to some of the places I’ve seen. Nobody does it better than our industry.”
The U.S. energy renaissance is paying dividends to Americans every time they refuel, Zinke said. Growing domestic oil production also means the country can lower its imports. He credited surging U.S. natural gas and oil output to a forward-looking and technologically advanced industry and said women should seize the career opportunities it offers:
“Today, through innovation, through industry standards, all of a sudden our energy picture in this country is the greatest on the planet. And in the innovation we’re thinking about and where we’re going to go in the future allows this country a lot of flexibility. My advice and wish for women in industry is to fight for everything you get, and fight for the future.”
Prior to the event, Gerard stressed the need for a more diverse workforce and said industry has more to do to attract top candidates:
“The industry continues to focus on addressing current and future workforce challenges. From our research and through work in communities across the country, we must do more to build awareness about the vast opportunities, training, and education necessary to fill future energy jobs. Highlighting the growing number of successful women in the industry and defining the many pathways that lead to careers in the oil and natural gas industry will help us attract more women. Energy is a growing sector that is driven by innovation. That innovation and the future of our industry require that our workforce better reflect the diversity of our nation.”
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.