The year isn’t even a fourth of the way through, and women have already left a monumental mark on 2018. Major highlights include: twice as many women running for Congress (compared with 2016); Team USA’s women athletes winning more medals than the men (and with more men than women on the team, too); and most recently, Greta Gerwig becoming the first female director to land an Oscar nomination for Best Director.
Those are big moments; well-publicized wins that many of us have been fortunate enough to hear about and share, and they represent significant and measurable progress for the world. On this International Women’s Day, in our own small section of the world – the oil and gas section, that is – I’m pleased to share that women have already made some major breakthroughs. While they may be lesser-known than some of the aforementioned instances, they are stories of forward momentum for women nonetheless, and today I find it only fitting that they be shared. Without further ado, here are three ways that women in energy are taking 2018 by storm.
1. Women are receiving recognition that’s long overdue.
This was the first year for Oil and Gas Investor’s Women in Energy luncheon and I was honored to attend the inaugural event along with eight of my female Quorum colleagues. Twenty-five distinguished women were celebrated for their notable influence on the oil and gas industry and we in the audience were honored to hear of the extraordinary paths they took to the peak of their careers. As the event progressed, and more stories were told, there was a noticeable shift in the gamut of emotions running throughout the room.
First came anger and disbelief upon hearing some of the hair raising scenarios that industry women were subjected to 40 years ago. Then, as the afternoon continued, we heard stories of perseverance from geologists, professors, and engineers, all of whom had faced obstacles because of their gender – and all of whom prevailed. Their words warmed the 650 women in the audience and reminded us that we all have the duty, the responsibility, and the honor, of carrying the torch forward for all the women that will come after us. And we will.
2. Women are nurturing the next generation of female industry experts.
Last month, ExxonMobil hosted its 15th annual “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” event. The program, which took place at company sites across the country, is designed to encourage young females to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Attendees were welcomed into Exxon as though they were new hires coming in on their first day of orientation in order to show middle-school girls that this career path is well within reach. The schedule for the day included workshops, hands-on experiments, and a series of activities to demonstrate opportunities in energy and other STEM subjects.
Over the years, the event has showcased career possibilities in STEM to more than 14,000 students. In an industry where 94 percent of people agree that diversity of thought and experience is key to navigating disruption, it is now more important than ever to introduce young minds to opportunities in our field.
As a mother of three girls, programs such as Exxon’s hold special significance. Every summer, I take my daughters to coding camp so they can explore and get comfortable in areas that are still underrepresented by females today. As a female with an educational background in computer science, my hope is that if they choose to pursue a STEM-related degree, their classroom will have a more even distribution of female faces than when I was in school.
3. Women are correcting what’s still wrong with representation in leadership.
Yesterday we announced three women at Quorum who have been promoted to executive leadership roles. This news comes at a time when women represent only eleven percent of senior executives in oil and gas, and it brings me tremendous pride to see that Quorum is fighting what our industry considers standard by bringing a diverse group of talent into leadership positions.
As our CEO, Perry Turbes, simply put it, “Each of these employees have risen to the top because they possess the fundamental character it takes to be a leader – and they just happen to be women.”
This year has already been one for the books. Let’s continue to tell stories, give recognition where it’s due, exchange insights, and foster a brighter future for women in oil and gas.
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