Inclusive Workplaces: TWA Women Editors Share Their Perspectives
Three women members of the TWA Editorial Committee share their perspectives on the evolving landscape for women in the oil and gas industry.
In recognition of the International Women’s Day (IWD) in March, the TWA Forum department reached out to women members of the TWA Editorial Committee asking for their perspectives on the evolving landscape for women in the oil and gas industry. In this article, they share their opinion on the significance of an unbiased workplace and the role of women in the success of any organization.
Maryse JackmanMinistry of Energy and Energy Industries, Trinidad and Tobago
The oil and gas industry today allows for flexibility that assists women of diverse backgrounds in the workplace and their personal lives. They are able to balance their family life together with their ability to be promoted in their field. Although this is a lot of progress, there are two significant areas that should be taken into consideration: Succession planning and mentoring.
Succession planning is vital where there is a gap between the aging workforce and the young professionals. This gap, as stated by many, can reduce the company’s ability to be resilient in an industry that requires this skill for survival. There must be respect and open communication which would open the door for women of diverse backgrounds. This inclusion can remove bias and help see professionals not based on gender but rather bring to the forefront effective teamwork and improved decision making.
The mentoring aspect shows promise for the industry. This program would stimulate growth in young professionals as they start their journey in the workforce. With this, one would be taught all the important skills by seasoned and experienced women in management positions. Building skills, knowledge transfer, and balancing work and family life would be beneficial to the mentee. Sharing of thoughts and ideas would give the young professional a sense of self-confidence, managing their emotions and envisioning their aspirations in life. Mentoring can not only increase productivity and efficiency in the industry, but also the team spirit.
The inclusion of women in the industry will pave the way for the younger generation to have an open mindset when choosing their career. When barriers are broken and diversity is embraced, women will be viewed as equals and being a success in the industry.
Maryse Jackman holds a BSc in geology from the University of the West Indies and is working in the Resource Management Division at the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries, Trinidad and Tobago. Her work includes geological evaluations of open/idle blocks for the purpose of competitive bid rounds.
Imperial College London
International Women's Day is a global day to celebrate women’s and girls’ achievements and to raise awareness of the efforts that still lie ahead to achieve gender equality. Throughout history women have dealt with a lot of hurdles. Even when the diversity problem was addressed, it was often discussed in board rooms when women were not at the table.
In 2016, a group of SPE women formed a taskforce to start the SPE Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee (formerly known as WIN). We believed in the role of SPE to address the gender inequality problem. When we sat and talked with a lot of women from different backgrounds and different parts of the world, we came to the realization that we are more alike than we are different, and this permanently changed my views.
I had the honor and the privilege to be one of D&I committee founders as I co-led it toward its acknowledgment as a standing committee. I co-chaired it for a year and chaired it for 2 years after that. During this time, I had the opportunity to work with wonderful women who brought incredible views and skills to the table which made me realize that we are not meant to stay behind the scenes. They say when they don’t give you a chair at the table bring your own chair. After working with these women, I can comfortably say I disagree—Don’t bring a chair; bring your own table! We are not meant to fit in, we are unique and the space we create for ourselves should match this. This should be the new norm and our way of making the unusual usual.
With this year’s IWD theme of #BreaktheBias, I would like to say that it is not about what you did to get here; it is about what you will do next. What are you doing to help others? And what would it look like to live in a world free of bias?
Nihal Mounir is a graduate teaching assistant at Imperial College London and a member of the group of experts on carbon neutrality with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. Her work focuses on carbon capture and storage, low-carbon technologies, and decarbonization of energy-intensive industries.
Starting my professional career in oil and gas in 2015, I observed a promising change in both, participation of women in the industry and their roles. From being the sole female participant/presenter in courses and workshops, nowadays I see women are significant contributors to different technical events. There is a steep increase in the number of women in all levels of managerial and technical positions in both academia and industry.
Despite all these improvements, we still have a long way to go before we can claim we have an unbiased industry. In my opinion, the criterion for this claim is not the quantity or quality of the roles occupied by women but the mentality and attitude toward their presence. I do believe we can achieve an unbiased workplace when the presence of women is considered as normal as the presence of men. One should not raise eyebrows when seeing a picture of a company board where females hold majority of the seats, regardless that this feeling is a result of respect or criticism. As Sheryl Sandberg said in her book Lean In, “In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”
How can we step toward this future? In my opinion, changes start with us. Besides all programs and funding assigned to empower the women in STEM and engineering, each of us have a responsibility toward our colleagues to support them in their tough times and give them advice. On the other hand, ask for help when you need it and be transparent about your problems. During my years of experience in the industry, I learned that most of my men colleagues have the same concerns as us; they have women in their families and are concerned about the future of their beloved female relatives.
We are in an exciting time with so many improvements in the right direction. Let’s make the progress faster by supporting each other.
Bita Bayestehparvin is a software expert-thermodynamic specialist at VMG-A Schlumberger Technology based in Calgary, Canada. Her technical interests include phase behavior modeling, reservoir characterization, pore-scale simulation, unconventional reservoirs, and enhanced oil recovery.