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Why Are There More Men In The Oil And Gas Industry?

Men in the field
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My earliest memory of being treated differently to a man was when I was five. I was in school and the male students left class because they were learning soccer, while we, the women, were learning to knit.
 
We weren’t given a choice.
 
Although this sounds like a powerful scene from a romantic wartime novel, it was only the late 80s. This memory made me wonder: how does nature and nurture impact the career paths men and women take, and can this answer “Why Are There More Men In The Oil And Gas Industry?”
 
The Effects of Nurture
 
Nurture (how people are treated by their environment and the people around them) could influence why there are more men in oil and gas because:
 
1. Being a guy means being tough
According to Brené Brown, New York Times Best Seller of Daring Greatly, men are taught that showing emotion is a sign of weakness. For example men are taught, “I am not allowed to be afraid, I am not allowed to show fear, I am not allowed to be vulnerable.”
 
It therefore seems logical why men are attracted to the oil and gas industry. It may involve being isolated for long periods of time, being physically strong, and withstanding difficult environments – all traits of bravery.
 
2. Men and women have differences in levels of confidence
According to the 2012 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor US Report, if you ask men and women with comparable levels of experience whether they can start a business, fewer than half of the women will say yes compared to two thirds of men.
 
These lower confidence levels for females also mean that women are paid less than men as women are less likely to ask for raises or promotions. As the oil and gas industry is so highly male dominated, it may be even harder for women to get equal pay and opportunities compared to other less male dominated industries deterring women from applying to oil and gas positions.
 
3. Women breaking into oil and gas can garner attention
Working in a male dominated industry can be intimidating for a woman. Sultana Holcomb, a former intern student with Anadarko Petroleum Corporation in Houston explains: “Being a woman in the oil and gas industry, you definitely stand out. It’s not like you’re out there in the field in a dress and high heels, but you do get attention.” Some women may find this a barrier to entering the oil and gas industry.
 
The Effects Of Nature
 
Nature (the natural genetic makeup people are born with) could influence why there are more men in the oil and gas industry because:
 
1. Men and women have differently wired brains
It makes sense men and women are built differently considering millions of years ago women had to look after their babies and knit while men went out to hunt dinosaurs and play soccer (or something along those lines).
 
According to a research study by The University of Manchester, the average man and woman are likely to only share 10% of common traits. The study of 10,000 participants indicated that women are more likely to be sensitive, warm and apprehensive where as men are more likely to be emotionally stable, dominant and open to change.
 
These differences could explain why men and women are attracted to certain jobs. For example women are less likely to be engineers than men. This could be because women enjoy other careers where they can connect more with other people. Men may prefer working on an oil and gas rig as they may enjoy dominance from leading other people.
 
2. Men and women have hormonal differences
Men have more testosterone than women, which makes them more likely to take risks. In fact, a 2008 study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America found that male traders took higher risks in the stock market on the days their testosterone levels were higher (and consequently made more money).
 
Considering working on an oil rig is rated as one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, it makes sense that the more risk taking gender would take on this job.
 
3. Men have more muscle mass than women
A lot of oil and gas jobs include heavy lifting that women may not be able to do. As Irene Lewis Motts, communications director of Stark State’s Oil and Gas School in Ohio, describes, “They’re difficult jobs. Not that women can’t do it, but there’s certainly a lot of men that can’t do it, too.” According to Offshore Technology, a lack of guidance teaching women about roles they can do is why the industry is struggling to attract women into its workforce.
 
What Will The Future Hold For Women In Oil And Gas?
 
I believe nature and nurture have a large effect on why there are more men in the oil and gas industry. However, according to a recent report by IHS Global, by 2030 the oil and gas industry could add 185,000 more women to its ranks. I believe this is a possibility if more women are educated about oil and gas jobs that fit with their personalities, physical abilities and skills.
 
It takes time to change gender biases about certain professions (do you remember when you thought a nurse was a woman?) However, if more women decide to work in oil and gas, they will. Just like how I decided at age five to never, ever knit again.
 

0ba8618 Aisha Tejani
Aisha Tejani is a contributing writer of Castagra Products, a storage tank and wastewater coatings manufacturing company that is highly acclaimed for its sustainable coatings, cold weather tank and secondary containment coating applications. Castagra products are NSF-61 certified and are used by the world’s top water and wastewater contractors.