business energy management Engineers Eniday

Women Engineers

Women engineer in oil field talking on the radio.
Nicholas Newman Eniday July 2017

In professional and managerial ranks, and especially as engineers, technicians, scientists and senior executives, women in the west are universally under-represented. For instance, in the UK, only 9 percent of engineers are women and in the US, the figure is just 14 percent, according to the Congressional Joint Economic Committee. Despite the high rewards, the energy sector has a long-standing recruitment and retention problem when it comes to female employees…

Hays Recruitment Agency found that women make up just 15 percent of the energy workers it surveyed. Individual energy firms show varying degrees of successful female recruitment. Women account for 17 percent of General Electric’s Oil and Gas Division, and 28 percent of ConocoPhillips, but rising to 32 percent in power utility E.on. The chronic shortage of women in the industry has been attributed variously to either its macho image, western education or the rigor of the work environment. However, perhaps fundamentally it comes down to a general lack of awareness and unfamiliarity with the industry. Few of the industry’s employees visit schools to meet, talk or capture their imagination with videos of oil rigs, seismic surveys or charts illustrating the uses of oil and gas. On top of this, there are very few media stories or profiles of women in electricity, oil or gas to act as role models.

The figures are stark. Of 78 applicants for apprenticeships at Britain’s largest power plant, only two were female. Likewise, Carolyn Woolway, from Siemens’ new multi-million-pound wind turbine factory in Hull told Viking FM Radio, “we have had 250 applications for apprenticeships and only 14 were from women but these opportunities are perfect for both genders, as long as you have got a keen interest in engineering and manufacturing.” Nevertheless, a conscious gender or cultural bias against engineering exists, as confirmed by a recent survey, which found that 65 percent of girls would not consider a career in engineering. Another survey, of teachers, found that more than half-regarded engineering as a boy’s career.

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