Despite great strides made by the international women’s rights movement over many years, women around the world are still facing restrictions in the energy industry; specifically within oil & gas.
440,000 people in the UK employed within the energy sector, only 3.7% were female. Undoubtedly the oil & gas industry is heavily dominated by men with over 96% of the industry being male. Although, this doesn’t mean the industry is just for men.
OPITO, one of the industries leading bodies, recently backed the UK’s #NotJustForBoys campaign on social media, alongside several other notable businesses. ‘Not just for boys’ is a campaign that’s all about choice – supporting and inspiring women to make decisions that are right for them. Anywhere from young girls thinking about what they want to be when they grow up, to women progressing in their career, or those returning to the workforce.
Morven Spalding, skills director of OPITO UK, said: “Not Just for Boys is a fantastic initiative and one that complements the vision that we have as a company to celebrate the fantastic work that women do in the oil and gas industry. “When it comes to increasing the number of women who work in this sector, whether it be onshore or offshore, we know that women themselves are best placed to let us know what support they need. By backing this campaign we are embracing another fantastic platform to showcase women in science, engineering and math careers, and allow their brilliance to speak for itself.”
Women in Technology
Following the success of last year’s event, Montash, an energy technology professionals recruitment company, recently announced its 2nd annual ‘Women In Technology’ Breakfast Briefing, on Friday 1st May at The Grand Connaught Rooms, Holborn, London.
“With this growing trend in campaigns supporting, showcasing and backing gender equality, and with International Women’s Day on the approach (Sunday 8th March 2015), I have been speaking to numerous women in the offshore oil & gas industry. I have spoken to them about how they found success in a male-dominated industry, what restrictions they encountered and what others should do to recreate their success. This week I have spoken to Scarlett Mummery,” said Stephen Johnson, Personnel Co-ordinator at Montash.
Introduction to myself
I am a 22-year-old offshore geotechnical engineer currently working on a self-employed freelance basis for Benthic. I have been working offshore for nearly 2 years now and I have recently started a blog ‘The Offshore Blondie’. After an amazing trip offshore in beautiful Canada I decided to start my blog to offer an insight into my job to other young females that might not have originally consider the idea of working offshore as a career. I have a passion for travel, geology and as you can see from my blog I am an extremely keen cook during my time home from offshore.
What I do for a living
You do get onshore geotechnical engineers but my current role is purely offshore based and I am involved with the site investigation phase of a project development. Offshore is all about teamwork but I am involved with in-situ testing, this includes CPT, BPT, Seismic CPT testing and soil sampling. I am involved from the very beginning of this process through to the generation of datasets for the client. I assist in the preparation and servicing of the equipment we use. I process, check and present all acquired in-situ testing data, generating document deliverables for the client. I log the core samples we retrieve and bring on deck and conduct offshore laboratory testing on the samples. My job also has physical aspects. I assist in the launch and recovery of equipment on PROD (Our Portable remotely operated drill).
How I got into the industry
My mother actually gave me the idea of working offshore while I was studying for my A levels and trying to decide on what degree I wanted to study at university. I live in an area where a large proportion of men work offshore. She used to have a restaurant called ‘Go Fish’ on the marina and a young guy not from the area but working offshore and visiting came in one evening. He told her about his job offshore on the survey vessels and when she repeated it to me the following morning I was sold on the idea. The idea of traveling the world and working at different sites in so many different continents and the lifestyle of working a month away and having a month off at home to spend as I wish sounded more than perfect to me.
My first step into the Industry was a summer placement at Fugro Alluvial, working in their laboratory dealing with the onshore testing and logging of their core samples. This placement confirmed my desire to work offshore and I completely loved the fact that I was one of only a few people to see and touch a piece of soil or rock that makes up this haven we inhabit. My career just developed from there, securing my first offshore geotechnical engineer role just 5 days after finishing my final exams of my degree and I have enjoyed it ever since.
Do I face any problems offshore because of my gender?
I have faced no issues offshore because of my sex. I am fortunate that the company I am working for – Benthic, aim to be a leader in perspective and they recognize the significance and importance of diversity and equal opportunities. I traveled out to Singapore after signing my contract with Benthic last summer and spent time there training and meeting my fellow colleagues. On multiple occasions I had members of staff including management speak to me and express how pleased they were that they now have a female engineer on board. The most judgmental people when I mention my job are in fact people outside of the industry. It is always amusing the look on someone’s face when I tell them what I do for a job. I know my limits, I know I’m petite but I can assure you that there is enough employed muscle onboard to not make this an obstacle in my career. All of the crew I have worked with at Benthic have never discriminated me for being a female in any aspect.
Do I believe this industry is male dominated?
Yes, completely. A mere 3.6% of women make up the offshore industry and statistics in fact show that this is decreasing. This being said, there is a complete misconception with regards to a women’s place in the oil and gas industry. Women are more than welcome within the industry I personally just believe that the opportunities out there are not presented to girls at a suitable age when they are at a stage in their lives. When you are finishing school it is a daunting time and you are trying to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life, this is when these opportunities need to be presented. I have only ever worked with one ever female offshore and environmentalist, who is now actually one of my best friends.
What I would change about the industry
Simple, if I had a magic wand I would bump the price of oil up again.
Advice for other females wanting to join
Don’t be discouraged or intimidated by the male-dominance of the offshore industry. Just like any job, this career is not for every girl though, a month away at a time can be hard and it does put a strain on relationships. If you are a keen socialite then this career is definitely not for you as you really do miss a lot of key events back at home throughout the year. Be prepared for what you are planning on entering into, it is physical, dirty and hard work. All that being said, it is the best decision I ever made and I wouldn’t change my job for the world. This job has opened my eyes to just how beautiful and diverse the world is, and allowed me to experience a variety of cultures I might not have ever got the opportunity to experience otherwise. My job is challenging and demanding but I can assure you it is not all work and no play. On multiple occasions I have stayed an extra few days in places we have been working near to take some local leave after a job with a few of my colleagues. Working offshore has created some of the greatest memories that I will now have forever.