Australia’s oil and gas sector has long been a boy’s club. From top to bottom, CEOs to engineers to labourers, the hierarchy in the oil and gas sector is dominated by men.
In 2012 the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association estimated just 13 per cent of the oil and gas workforce was made up of women – almost four times less the Australia’s national average of women in the workplace of 46 per cent.
And since then, signs of a more diversified workplace have not been forthcoming. Data from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency published last year shows women make up just 24 per cent of jobs in the gas, electricity and water services industries while in the mining sector, that figure drops to about 14 per cent.
More recently still, Engineers Australia’s December 2014 assessment on the state of the industry shows that there are almost four times more male resources engineers operating than women.
But the daunting figures are not what prompted Ms Mendez to first start Women in Oil and Gas Australia (WIOG) – a group dedicated to encouraging young females to explore careers in the sector.
Ms Mendez says it all starts with encouraging young girls at high school level to take up science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.
“Increasing our presence in schools has seen more and more girls taking up those STEM subjects at high school and increase the pool of women qualified to work in energy, technology, construction, and oil and gas. Definitely through doing those subjects they will be able to inspire others to take the same leap because they will probably be the role models one day too,” Ms Mendez says.
We need more women in the pipeline