West of Shetland - the UK's final frontier30 Oct, 2018
Although the weather may be turning colder, exploration West of Shetland is hotting up, writes our Chief Executive Chris CoxRead More
When I first arrived at the Barrow Gas Terminals it was a little bit daunting to know I would be one of a few women on site, but I thought of it in a positive way – girls are usually underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) industries, so this was a chance for me to do something different, and I enjoyed my technical subjects at school so it was the right decision for me.
The team around me is really supportive and want to help me learn – I’m still learning new things from them every day, and having that experience around me is great. I started to realise just how far I had come in the short time since starting at the terminals when the apprentices who joined a year after me started working here, and I was passing on what I had learned as well, which was a brilliant feeling.
Once I come out of my time, I’m looking forward to putting everything I have learned into practice at the terminals and continuing to progress my career here. I don’t think you really stop learning just because you’ve finished your apprenticeship, and I’m looking forward to coming up against problems and challenges on my own and working out how to solve them.
International Women’s Day has some very special memories for me; I first celebrated it two years ago while on maternity leave with a new “mum” friend.
We spent the afternoon discussing our new babies but also talking about returning to work and how to combine parenthood with a career. I have since returned to work, and it is good to reflect two years on about our industry and how we attract and retain women into the oil and gas industry.
This is an industry with so many opportunities, from technical apprenticeships like Lois’, to engineering and geology disciplines and the business support roles like Anita’s finance team. The things I love about this industry are the teamwork, the opportunity to solve problems, delivering value and the fact that engineering is at the heart of what we do.
What each route into the industry has in common, however, is the importance of progression to many women and men, regardless of where they are on their career path. As part of a study dispelling the myths of the gender “ambition gap”, management consultants BCG found that having children does not make women less ambitious – but this is perhaps not recognised and can be an unconscious bias as women return to work.
And with women only accounting for around 20% of the oil and gas sector’s workforce – less than many other industries including agriculture and manufacturing – it’s more important than ever that we build an industry that attracts and creates career paths for talented women. We do that by giving young women like Lois a culture they want to work in and an environment set up to ensure progression throughout their career.
I am a big believer that people cannot be what they cannot see, and so for us here in the Netherlands a big focus has been on welcoming young students into Spirit Energy and introducing them to women in our team that they can identify with.
It is always really powerful to watch these schoolgirls interact with our geologists and HSE experts as they begin to see themselves pursuing careers in the energy industry, so we want to open the door for these girls and show them what is possible.
As an accountant, I sometimes don’t consider myself to be in a STEM role, but that just underlines the fact that the opportunities in STEM are so vast. If you have an interest in science or maths then there are so many options available to you.
There’s a long way to go, as Tamsin has said, but I think we can get closer to more equal gender representation in the oil and gas industry. As more girls and young women see people they can relate to in the sector, that encourages them to consider it and creates a multiplier effect. What has struck me about Spirit Energy is the desire among the women in our teams to introduce more women to the industry – it is very rare to find a woman in a STEM career who does not want to open others’ eyes to the opportunities in the sector, and that gives me hope that we can address that imbalance.