Diversifying the Oil and Gas Workforce

Women Excelling in Technical and Engineering Roles

February 8, 2024

A Brief Intro to Me

My name is Holly Smith and I come from a background in STEM. In Summer of 2023, I graduated from Strathclyde University with a degree in Chemistry with Drug Discovery. During my time at University, I completed two laboratory placements (within aseptic and non-sterile facilities) and although I enjoyed these positions, I wanted to get into a more people/customer-facing role. When I graduated, I decided that I wanted to get into a career in recruitment and, thus, started my career at WeConnect Energy.  

At WeConnect Energy, I am based in the Drilling, Wells, and HSE Team and work alongside Andrew Fenning, who is our Lead Consultant in Drilling. Since starting in the company, I quickly noticed the overwhelming gender inequality when speaking to candidates within the disciplines that I cover. Although there are progressive movements to get more women into these technical roles, they only represent 15% of the total oil and gas workforce. I hope that as my career progresses in the energy recruitment industry that not only is this issue better addressed, but also improvements are made to better support women in the sector.

Office woman smiling to coworker
Holly Smith - Drilling and Wells Consultant

Advancements in Inclusivity

The oil and gas industry, traditionally viewed as a male-dominated field, has made significant strides in fostering inclusivity, especially in technical and engineering positions. Historically, women have been underrepresented in these roles, but recent initiatives and policies are changing the landscape. Studies show that companies with a higher number of female leaders perform better financially, leaving no reason for women not to be successful in these senior roles.

Policies and Initiatives

Many companies within the sector have implemented policies aimed at reducing gender bias and promoting equality. For example, flexible working hours and maternity leave policies are becoming standard. Additionally, mentorship programs specifically designed for women in engineering and technical roles have proven to be effective. These initiatives not only support women in their current roles but also encourage more women to consider careers in these fields. Throughout my discussions with women in senior-level positions in the energy sector, it is clear the impact that a positive mentor can have on someone’s career success, yet 63% of women have never had a formal mentor.  

"Women's success in oil and gas technical roles shatters stereotypes and inspires a new generation in STEM." 

Encouraging Female Participation: Efforts to encourage female participation in STEM roles, particularly in drilling and engineering, are critical. This includes outreach programs in schools and universities, scholarships for women in STEM, and visibility campaigns showcasing successful women in these roles. Global supermajors have implemented their own initiatives, such as Shell’s “Girls in Energy” which is a one-year engineering course aimed to inspire young women (14-16 years old) to pursue a career in the energy industry.

Progress and Change: The increasing number of women in engineering and technical roles within the oil and gas industry is a positive indicator of change. As this McKinsey article states, this shift is not only a result of evolving societal norms but also due to the tangible benefits that diversity brings to the workplace, including different perspectives and innovative solutions. This positive transition is attributed not only to evolving societal norms but also to the recognition of the tangible benefits that diversity brings to the workplace, such as varied perspectives and innovative solutions.  

Yet, despite these advancements, challenges such as unconscious bias and the industry's demanding and remote working conditions remain. These factors may require relocation to far-flung locations, potentially discouraging women from participating in the early stages of their careers and representing complex issues without easy solutions.

Recruitment Tips for Women

For women aspiring to enter the oil and gas industry, especially in technical and engineering roles, here are some tips: 

Build a Strong Foundation: Focus on acquiring a solid educational background in STEM subjects. Consider specialised courses or degrees in petroleum engineering or related fields. 

Network and Mentorship: Leverage professional networks and seek mentorship. Attend industry conferences, join professional groups, and connect with women who have paved the way in the industry, such as Women in Energy and Powerful Women.

Showcase Your Skills: When applying for roles, highlight your technical skills and any relevant experience. Tailor your CV to showcase how your unique perspective and skills would be an asset to the company. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself, be confident in what you have achieved.

Do Your Research: Find out as much as you can about the company and role, and whilst doing so you will naturally highlight what areas of similarity would make you a good fit for the team. There are plenty of free courses online that can help you improve your understanding of what is required to attain a leadership role within your chosen company.  


The journey towards gender diversity in the oil and gas industry is ongoing. The increasing presence of women in technical and engineering roles not only enhances the industry but also serves as a source of inspiration for future generations. Simply put, companies that have a significant share of female leaders outperform their peers.  

The accomplishments of women in this sector serve as powerful testimonials for young girls and women considering careers in engineering and STEM. Their success stories challenge stereotypes and highlight the possibilities that exist within these fields. That’s why I have decided to interview a host of female leaders from Directors to VPs in this field, and I look forward to releasing a Spotlight on Women in STEM. Within, I plan on sharing insights and highlighting advice shared by successful women in senior leadership roles within the energy industry. Please keep an eye out for this which is scheduled to be released on International Women’s Day – March 8th, 2024.

woman smiling in a plus shaped frame

If you would be interested in discussing your experiences in this industry or want to get involved in our Spotlight on Women in STEM series, feel free to connect with me or send an email to h.smith@weconnectenergy.com.  

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