Women Fill 40% of Vacancies in Oil, Gas

Women Fill 40% of Vacancies in Oil, Gas

In the first quarter of 2013, more women than men entered the oil and gas industry. Specifically, about 3,900 positions were added in the oil and gas sector with about 46 percent of these positions, or 1,800 positions filled by women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since 1991 (when the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking this trend), there has never been a year where more than a third of new hires in the industry have been women.

"While there is a concerted effort to recruit women into the field, that number stands alone in this recovery and only time will tell if its sustainable," said Paul Caplan, president, Rigzone, in a recent interview.

Many of the filled positions are not on oil rigs, but instead are in offices as technicians, geologists or engineers.

"I see more and more women and minorities within my company every day," said Kelly Emanuel, NAM credit manager at Weatherford International. "It makes me feel good knowing that they are willing to hire the best candidates for the job despite their gender or ethnic background."

Oil and gas companies are actively recruiting women with many launching internal goals for gender representation among senior leadership. BP plc has a goal of raising its percentage of female group leaders to 25 percent by 2020, according to the company's 2012 Sustainability Review. In 2012, 17 percent of the group leaders were female, up from 9 percent in 2000.

This goal reflects a broader rise of women in the workforce as a whole.

"We've seen a lot of women apply for positions and they're very, very qualified," said Mile Melillo, Repsol USA recruiting manager.

Today, more women than men hold bachelor's degrees, and they make up nearly half – 47 percent – of the American workforce. But that's not all. America's working mothers are now the primary breadwinners in a record 40 percent of households with children, up from just 11 percent in 1960, according to a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center.

While most of these homes are headed by single mothers, a significant number are families with married mothers who earn more than their husbands.

"This trend is just another milestone in the dramatic transformation we have seen in family structure and family dynamics over the past 50 years or so," said Kim Parker, associated director with the Pew Social & Demographic Trends Project, in the Pew study. "Women's roles have changed, marriage rates have declined – the family looks a lot different than it used to. The rise of breadwinner moms highlights the fact that, not only are more mothers balancing work and family these days, but the economic contributions mothers are making to their households have grown immensely."

Overall, 13.7 million U.S. households with children under the age of 18 now include mothers who are breadwinners. Of those, 5.1 million, or 37 percent, are married, while 8.6 million, or 63 percent, are single. And among all U.S. households with children, the share of married breadwinner moms has jumped from 4 percent in 1960 to 15 percent in 2011. For single mothers, the share has increased from 7 percent to 25 percent.

This trend might be why more women are entering the oil and gas industry – the pay. The oil and gas industry offers some of the highest salaries compared to other sectors. The national average annual salary for oil and gas exploration and production is $96,844 or about $47 per hour – more than double the average annual salary for all occupations, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

"I entered the oil and gas industry directly out of college because it was a good opportunity," said Emanuel. "I have found that there are a lot of opportunities for women in the oil patch, especially in Houston, for growth and learning."

In fact, the industry distributed $176 billion in wages paid to U.S. employees, plus benefits and payments to oil and natural gas leaseholders, reported API. With salaries continuing to soar, thanks to the recent shale boom, the oil and gas industry will continue to attract talent but diversity remains a problem.

"The population of this country is far more diverse than this industry as a whole," said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel, at the 2013 Offshore Technology Conference at a press hearing. "So I think this industry has some work to do."


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mL  |  September 24, 2015
@Kenton Cooke You are funny. While on the rig in NEPA as a rockhound, I got out there and did a rough necks job as well. The guys I worked with could attest to the fact I worked ten times harder than the worm hands ever had as well as some of the more senior guys. Being closed minded to women on a drilling rig is sad.
kenton cooke  |  July 05, 2013
as long as they stay in office they will be a good asset to the oilfield they do not have any part of drilling rig opertations
Robert Green  |  July 04, 2013
While can appreciate Ms. Jewells desire for the Oil & Gas industry to hire a more diverse range of employees, in line with her politically correct management, it is really NOT HER JOB to determine who is or is not qualified to do the jobs the sector has. She should be talking directly to the Department of Education to stress the importance for teaching science, mathematics and writing skills needed to understand and transmit the technical and safety information that is required as the jobs get increasingly complex. She should also look at what the Australians are doing with technical schools in Western Australia in an effort to train people for the LNG work there and train them in HSE as the industry grows and their efforts to protect their environment increase three-fold.