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Women in Energy Conference highlights growing role of women in oil and gas workforce

Nov 19, 2017
4 min read
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The closing day of ADIPEC has put the spotlight on the growing importance of women in the oil and gas workforce, with industry role models leading the Women in Energy conference.

Held as part of the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC), more than 200 delegates attended Women in Energy, offering a full day of discussions aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion within the global oil and gas industry.

In the conference’s keynote address, former US ambassador to the UAE, and now president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, Marcelle M. Wahba, said many industries continued to have a built-in bias that men were better suited to certain roles.

“This is the glass ceiling that women contend with in male dominated professions or industries,” Wahba said. “When it comes to glass ceilings, I understand that there’s none tougher to crack than the one that women face in the oil and gas industry.”

Women in Energy includes an emphasis on supporting a new generation of female professionals seeking careers in scientific or technical roles.

Research by the Boston Consulting Group, for the World Petroleum Council, has found that fewer than a fifth of oil and gas workers are female. The disparity is particularly acute in offshore and marine, refining, and petrochemicals, in which women hold just 15 per cent of entry-level technical and field positions. By comparison, female graduates hold half of entry-level office and business-support positions.

“While the number of women enrolling in the science and technology programmes at university level is very high, the number of women entering the STEM workforce is not accelerating at the same pace,” commented Wahba. “Some social stigmas and stereotyped gender roles persist, and those jobs are often viewed as more demanding or more dangerous. That’s true not only in the UAE, it’s also true in other countries, in Europe and in the United States.”

While noting that the glass ceiling is faced by women worldwide, Wahba added that it is cracking, and praised the UAE for its commitment to expanding the role of women in both business and government.

“The UAE leadership has for decades championed women’s issues from education to employment, and everything in between,” she said. “The progress is very visible, and also quite unique, not only for this part of the world, but globally. I believe the role of women in the UAE demonstrates the progressive vision of this society and its leaders.”

Women in Energy provides a vital platform enabling women and men from many countries to meet, network and share experience. Held as part of ADIPEC, one of the world’s leading annual events for oil and gas professionals and decision makers, it is assured of high visibility across the industry.

A full day of sessions focused on the contribution women are making in the industry, both in terms of how women can be further empowered towards achieving their career ambitions, and by offering space for women to share their own professional expertise with their peers.

Speakers included women working at several international and local companies, including Petronas, Lukoil, Nova Chemicals and Tatweer Petroleum, sharing their knowledge and experience, and exploring strategies for promoting diversity across the board.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, hosted by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), and organised by the Global Energy division of dmg events, ADIPEC is one of the world’s leading oil and gas events, and the largest in Africa and the Middle East.

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