You don’t even have to look at the tweet below to know that the oil and gas industry has a reputation for being a man’s world. It’s a “rough and tough” industry that comes with a lot of stereotypes: Filled with men. Not a lot of women. And you have to be willing to knock back a few beers, do plenty of golfing and mingle with “the guys” if you want to make it.
The oil and gas industry as a whole is well aware of the issues they are facing. Companies have been spending thousands of dollars to promote their diversity efforts that encourage more women to join the industry. These are nice gestures and great publicity. But they are completely missing the mark when it comes to creating a culture that not only encourages women to enter the industry, but that fosters an environment where they can thrive.
There are two important things I’d like to show you that will help illustrate my point.
The Oil and Gas Industry Has a Major Gender Pay Gap Problem
Last year, PayScale surveyed 1.8 million users to find out which industries have the biggest gender pay gaps, looking at both controlled and uncontrolled data. It turns out, no matter how you cut it, the largest and most persistent gender pay gap is in oil and gas. And before you tell me that oil and gas is a male-dominated field, remember that so is the tech industry, and the controlled gender pay gap in tech is among the smallest of any industry.
Oil and gas has a controlled gender pay gap of -7.4 percent. Men earn median salaries of about $6,000 more per year than women do for the same work, even when those women have the same experience and education. Totally unacceptable.
In the oil and gas industry, men's median annual salaries are about $6,000 higher than women's.
The Oil and Gas Industry Seriously Lacks Male Advocates
One of the most crucial tools for closing the gender pay gap for good is male advocates. Male advocates are men in any industry who will step up and advocate for women in the workplace. This can be in the form of a mentor, recommending a woman for a promotion or simply creating a culture that is as inclusive and equally supportive of women as it is of men.
One shining example of this can be seen in a tweet from a company called Henderson Rigs. As you can see in the photo, you have two “booth babes” advertising the company at an industry conference. There is nothing wrong with being a booth babe — if that’s your calling, by all means follow your dreams. I’m not here to comment on marketing strategy. But I do want to point out how the reactions from this photo show the serious lack of male advocates in the industry.
— HENDERSON (@hendersonrigs) May 2, 2017
Again, this all goes back to creating a welcoming working environment for women where they can thrive. And when women encounter images like this, what is that really saying about the culture of the industry and the company? Most of the reactions to this photo from men had me shaking my head in frustration.
As far at the Oil and Gas business goes, it is and will remain a “Good Ole Boys” network. The women who have succeeded in the Oil and Gas business are smart, educated, and driven. These women understand the landscape and earn respect from their peers by attaining results. They don’t bitch about inequality. And, trust me, there are plenty of educated women that hold positions in upper management. – Patrick LeDoux, Sales Manager at Nippon Steel & Sumikin Bussan Americas
Not seeing anything dated there. What’s the problem again? – Bryan Goodwin, Social Media Manager at Company Unknown
My family has been in this industry for 40+ years, and I don’t understand the correlation; a job you’d sign up for, and an industry that matters. No women are being paraded around any conferences in the O&G space that I’ve see in the last 16 years. – Dan Henderson, Founder and CEO of Henderson Rigs
From a different perspective: How does this advertisement effect Henderson’s bottom line? Sure, it may entice a few low level male managers to come to their event. But, how many big players in the energy industry will be turned off by such a cheap marketing ploy? It reminds me of the “nerdy” fraternities in college would try and get pretty girls to come to their parties so they would LOOK cool…. -Marianne Robak, Business Disputes Attorney, Cersonsky, Rosen & Garcia P.C.
Is There a Silver Lining?
The silver lining in the oil and gas industry is the women who are inspiring and making change. If you work in the industry, join a women’s group like Pink Petro that can support you and help give you the tools you need to not only close the pay gap, but to also break through to the c-level within your organization. Want to make your own ripples? Start an organization yourself within your company that will support women, and help educate your male coworkers on how to be a positive male advocate for others.
I would like to personally challenge Henderson Rigs, and companies like it, to be a leader in changing the narrative around women in the oil and gas industry.
Tell Us What You Think!
Do you think the oil and gas industry is a welcoming place for women? We want to hear from you! Comment below or join the discussion on Twitter!