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Balancing the equation, one role model at a time
24 Sep 2019

Norway needs more engineers and technologists.

Key figures

of those in higher education in Norway are women
of those women choose to study engineering

Although women make up 60 per cent of those in higher education in Norway, only about 20 per cent opt to study engineering. And despite numerous measures to motivate them to choose this path, numbers have been stagnating.

Among those who embarked on this route were chemical engineer, Gunn Gadeholt and Turid Moldskred, a petroleum engineer, both working in the project management team in Spirit Energy’s Norway office.

There were many options on the table when they were considering what to do after high school, but for Gunn, it was an older brother who inspired her by entertaining her with science experiments when she was growing up.

She said: “I learned pretty early on that sciences open the door to many different and exciting professions. I wanted to have these options available rather than being locked into more traditional choices.”

Turid, too, has always enjoyed science. When evaluating her options for a Master’s degree, she discovered that the oil and gas industry provided exciting opportunities both nationally and internationally. It was this that motivated her to pick Petroleum Engineering.

“The oil and gas industry was, and still is, very exciting. I have not regretted my education and job choice," she said. With experience spanning major companies including Equinor and ConocoPhillips, Turid joined Spirit Energy about six years ago, and has since worked on the Oda development, contributing to the field starting production in March this year.

The challenge is sparking an interest in science in young people, and I think that visible role models are important for this.
Turid Moldskred

She said that working for a company like Spirit Energy has several advantages. She can work across multiple disciplines and is more involved in all of the processes that are ongoing. “I really enjoy that,” says Turid.

Gunn added: “We are small enough to know our colleagues and to work well across disciplines, but we are big enough to start thinking about bigger tasks. We can also contribute in creating the workplace we want. Not everyone has this opportunity.”

They both agree that diversity is key to success – simply because you then get more talent to choose from, more diverse views and a better work environment.

“Based on my own working experience onshore and offshore I am convinced that diverse teams are more successful. Not only focusing on gender, but in the broader sense of the word,” says Gunn. “We need female role models too; someone young women can identify with and who inspires them to consider choosing technology and science in their education.”

Since 2015, Gunn has headed-up work to assess whether the Fogelberg discovery in the Norwegian Sea could become a viable development for the company. Describing her experience at Spirit Energy, she said: “Changing, challenging and educational might be the three best words to describe the last few years. I enjoy working with the project team and assessing both technical and non-technical matters related to potential development solutions. I have also had to balance the views and expectations of licence partners. It has been very interesting, and gives a great sense of accomplishment when you see different interests coming together and are able to find common ground.”

Turid has had a similar experience, and hopes other young women will get the chance to receive information about the wide-ranging opportunities that accompany an engineering degree. She said: “I hope they will get to see all of the exciting opportunities in technology and choose this direction. We need many bright minds, both in the private and public sectors in the years to come. The challenge is sparking an interest in science in young people, and I think that visible role models are important for this.”