OTC 2015: Panel Addresses Challenges Facing Women in Oil, Gas

A 2015 Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) panel, Women in Industry Sharing Experiences (WISE), featuring four oil and gas professionals explored the unique challenges women face in the oil and gas industry. Moderated by Pink Petro founder and CEO Katie Mehnert, the panelists offered poignant advice to women of all ages, often referencing their journeys while navigating the industry.

Each panelist was asked of the barriers facing woman entering the male-dominated industry of oil and gas. Here are their responses:

“One of the biggest barriers women face is not taking the time to find your own definition of success. Nobody else knows what your passion is or what gives you unique value. A definition of success is uniquely personal. Some have been told ‘you can have it all.’ I’ve mentored many women and told them though you may have it all, I’m not sure you can get it all at once. Being a woman, certain people will have assumptions about us. As a woman in the energy industry, you’re going to have to walk your own path and realize it’s not going to look like that of your male colleagues. And that’s okay. When you stay true to yourself and your definition of success, you’ll be amazed at what you can do.” Christina Sistrunk, VP of Arctic Capability for Shell Upstream Americas

“I’ve never had that ‘having to fight because I’m a woman’ attitude because it pegs you as a victim. If there were barriers, I wouldn’t know it because I just keep plugging away. I do want to mention something I heard said by a speaker at an event I attended and it was that women are often afraid to ask for a raise. They feel that they aren’t worthy or aren’t doing a good enough job. I would beg of you to always feel good about yourselves and ask for that raise if you deserve it.” June Ressler, CEO of Cenergy International

“I started in this industry in 1985 at Chevron. My challenge at one time was being the only African American [among recent college graduates]. Sometimes, it’s okay to be the only one. And to be honest, sometimes you very well may be the only one. You have to be confident in who you are and what you bring to the table. We need each of you to reach back and bring up one woman like yourself so that we see more women in the industry who look like us. We need you to help us get there and break down this barrier that there can’t be women like me at the top. It’s our responsibility to do this so that we can continue to build a pipeline for the future.” Angela Knight, Global Diversity and Inclusion Leader for GE Oil and Gas

“One of my challenges was when I first entered the industry, I was the only girl working in the field [as a field engineer]. I was fortunate enough to be featured in an ad that shared my story. After that, several girls came up to me and told me they were encouraged by my story. I encourage you all to go back to your universities, talk to somebody, educate them and show them they can do it, too. Tell your story and encourage others so we can see more female engineers in the industry.” Gabriela Arias, Business Development for Halliburton Co.  

Valerie is an experienced writer and editor dedicated to providing useful and relevant career news about the oil and gas industry. Email Valerie at valerie.jones@rigzone.com


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