How Can the Industry Better Promote Gender Equality?Wed, 01/18/2017 - 12:03
If you walk into a room of 100 top-level global oil and gas executives, just 11 will be women, according to a 2016 survey carried out by the Peterson Institute for International Economics. The same study, which analyzed results from some 21,980 companies across 91 countries, found that companies with 30 percent female representation on executive boards could add up to 6 percentage points to net margin. In an industry emerging from a crisis and looking to rejuvenate its aging workforce with a generation that considers gender equality a priority, Mexico Oil & Gas Review turned to women leaders for their opinion on promoting gender equality in the industry.
Unconscious bias is the most significant challenge I have faced. Throughout my career there have been times when managers and leadership have made assumptions about what I would be willing or unwilling to take on. As a leader I have seen many managers make assumptions that disadvantage women who are willing to take on challenges. Whether it is working in the field, taking on an international assignment or going on a golf outing, I would give young women the same advice that I give young men: focus on results, be persistent and be sure to put your hand up when you want to take on a new challenge, listen to feedback, help your team succeed and find something you are passionate about.
I was the first female manager to work at TenarisTamsa in Mexico, one of the largest global manufacturers of steel pipes for the energy sector. For me, this was an advantage because the rest of the industry in the area had never dealt with a woman before and did not know how to treat me. At that time, human resources was not fully developed in Tamsa, so I had the independence and therefore the chance to prove my abilities. Engineering is seen as a man’s world, which makes it difficult for a woman to decide to go down that path. But everything depends on attitude: if you approach the situation without fear, it can actually be an advantage.
If I attend specialized conferences, like an engineering meeting, sometimes there is just me and nine men. Schools should encourage women to enter technical programs because the issue of a lack of women in leadership positions in oil and gas stems from a lack of education. They should also give women more responsibility earlier on, such as leadership positions at school. The biggest challenge as a woman in this industry is feeling empowered. The first priority is to believe in ourselves. Also, we have to learn how to balance our work life with other areas such as family and our social life. I would advise them first to believe in themselves. Secondly, I want to highlight the commitment women should have to helping other women. As a leader, we can inspire other women to follow the same path.
Alma América Porres
At the moment, there are very few females in managerial positions. In the coming years, I hope to see more opportunities for women as a result of the larger number of women that are being educated to participate in this sector. Today, many key decisions are made by men, making it challenging for women to advance to decisionmaking positions. Nevertheless, I think the future of women in those positions is promising. A generational change is taking place. When I studied geophysical engineering, I was the only female in my class. Today, women represent more than 50 percent of the students. This will create the foundation for the development of women in this industry that traditionally has been the domain of men.
I do not think that being a woman gives you an advantage or a disadvantage in the field. However, it certainly creates challenges that have to be addressed on a daily basis — when conducting critical conversations with men,for example. Women need to know they are capable from a professional viewpoint, be it for their knowledge, experience or background. In the end, it all depends on how you present yourself, how you set yourself goals and focus on achieving them by studying, which in the end leads you to grow along with the company. The first person who must be liberated of stereotype is you. I started my career 25 years ago and had the support of what could be called a mentor, who offered me experience, knowledge and time.
The industry must promote equality so the same opportunities and conditions exist for men and women to excel in any field of the hydrocarbon industry, based on their talents, skills, knowledge and experience, without gender becoming a limitation. When I entered the oil industry, I did not expect special privileges or advantages because I was a woman but I did not consider the disadvantages either. Therefore, the main challenge that I faced, like any professional in this industry, was keeping up to date and offering a personalized and excellent service. I have always acted with discipline, constancy and enthusiasm, convinced that I could achieve my goals with effort, dedication, loyalty and professionalism. My route was to win the trust and friendship of each of my clients.
I do not see many challenges in particular for women in the oil and gas industry. It is a sector that truly values knowledge and I see that this quality surpasses gender as a determining factor for getting along in the industry. Perhaps the industry is not popular among women in Mexico because there is not enough information about the opportunities and what the industry is about. In general, the industry should be promoted for how interesting it is in terms of geopolitics, economics and how it makes the world go round. With the Energy Reform it will naturally become a more global topic in Mexico and hopefully encourage men and women alike to enter the industry.