A friend of mine recently shared this great article, The Woman Question by Janeen Judah, with me. Last year the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) had it’s first women president in 11 years (they’ve had only 4 women presidents total). For her final column in the SPE published Journal of Petroleum Technology (JPT) outgoing SPE president, Janeen Judah, tackled the gender issue.
We can change the future for diversity because we proved we could improve safety programs. In the 1980s, safety was the responsibility of the safety man. Injuries and fatalities were just part of life in the oil field. The dual tragedies of Piper Alpha and Exxon Valdez changed all that. Now, safety is an accountable metric for all business leaders, and our industry safety performance has improved very dramatically. Visible metrics and accountable leaders make a difference.
It can be the same with diversity. Development of people should be an accountable metric for all business leaders. Every male leader should mentor at least one high-potential female. Women leaders should not be expected to mentor all the women. Diversity should not be concentrated in staff support roles such as human resources, finance, and legal.
Visible metrics and accountable leaders can change the face, literally, of our industry. I regret that it didn’t happen in my generation.
I think Janeen did a really great job at discussing the challenges women engineers face in the oil and gas industry. It’s a very worthwhile read for all women engineers, not just women in oil and gas.
Please take a moment to read this well written article (link below). In the article Janeen discusses the following topics: what is it like to be a women in a male-dominated industry, why is the oil and gas industry so hard on women, how can women get ahead in this industry, how to manage dual career issues, how to manage work/life balance, and what’s next.
I don’t believe there is work/life balance; rather, there is work/life compromise. Sometimes (OK, usually) work takes precedence and sometimes family takes priority. Most modern supervisors are flexible about employees taking off for a child’s weekday event because we can all make up for the work at home. But beware: The higher up the ladder, the less work/life balance you will have. When you manage operations or a large team, your employees expect you to be available 24/7. That’s another reason I actively promote the technical career ladder (vs. the management career ladder) for better work/life balance for both men and women.
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