Charted: Women in the Energy Sector and What Is Changing

Aaron Foyer

Together with Young Women in Energy (YWE) and Katie Smith-Parent

Status of women in the energy industry

Despite significant efforts to diversify, female representation in oil and gas is roughly where it was a decade ago. Progress has been slow, but through a focus on the “S” in ESG, it’s happening!

Representation of Women in Major Industries, 2020

Oil and gas represents one of the major industries with the lowest percentages of women in the workforce. Roughly 2-in-10 workers in oil and gas are women, about half the rate of the broader workforce.

In oil and gas sectors the closer to the drill bit, like oilfield services and upstream, there is less gender diversity than those sectors closer to the final customer (downstream).

Women’s participation in operations roles in the oil and gas industry

The percentage of women in the oil and gas workforce decrease with seniority. Less than 2% of oil and gas C-suite executives are women. While all industries suffer from decreasing female representation at senior levels, oil & gas lags the broader market.

To start bridging the gender gap in leadership roles, agreeing on why the gap exists is a key first step. Currently, men and women have very different views about reasons for lack of female leadership.

What we can do about it

Young Women in Energy hosted a Solveathon where young women ideated on ways to improve diversity and inclusion in energy and the following are actionable ideas any company can take.

  • Invest in more nuanced data (qualitative and quantitative)
    • Engage senior leaders on the question of data
    • Encourage your organization to invest in qualitative data and cultivate partnerships that support the collection of more qualitative data
    • Invest in quantitative data and cultivate partnerships that could support the collection of more quantitative data
  • Make goals transparent and public
    • Ignite citizen support for the public sharing of goals and outcomes related to the advancement of women in energy
    • Clarify goals and outcomes for all diversity and inclusion initiatives
    • Advocate for industry-wide goals for advancing women into leadership
  • Work to reduce bias in organizational and process design
    • Review key organizational processes for bias
    • Advocate for pay transparency and the clarification of leadership criteria
    • Lead candid conversation about bias and biased assumptions
  • Make upstream investments in girls, young women, and a more equal energy sector
    • Inspire girls to get into energy and STEM
    • Share your vision
    • Know your worth and share your values