As the Gender Pay Gap currently has the attention of the nation we look into the demographics within the Oil and Gas industry workforce.
Figures show that women make up 23 percent of the oil and gas workforce and 13 percent of the technical workforce. Although this is significantly lower than the 47 percent national average the figures are broadly in line with other STEM sectors, water – 28 percent, defence- 26 percent, construction – 24 percent and aerospace – 12 percent. (Figures from: Fuelling the Next Generation Report 2014.)
Oil & Gas UK supports publishing details of the gender pay gap and many companies are already taking steps to tackle the issue. The introduction of the gender pay gap reporting regulations provides an opportunity for many more companies to be aware of the challenges of ensuring gender diversity in their workforce, which is ultimately undermining their own competitive edge. Understanding this gap can then help prompt companies to take constructive steps to close the gap by, for example, actively encouraging and supporting women to move into more senior and STEM related roles.
There are also a number of campaigns and networks within the industry that are working to close the gender gap.
A national campaign, WISE, is set to tackle gender imbalance in science, technology and engineering.
Oil & Gas UK’s Chief Executive, Deirdre Michie, is a member of the Women’s Business Council. The Women’s Business Council was set up in 2012 to advise government on how women’s contribution to growth can be optimised. Its aim has been to focus on areas with the greatest potential economic benefit and on recommendations with a clear economic case foraction, including promoting best practice within companies to tackle the gender pay gap as well as helping to develop the recent reporting regulations.
The proportion of female engineers in the UK workforce stands at 7 percent. Oil & Gas UK believes that one way to improving this figure is to increase the number of young people, particularly girls studying STEM subjects. In response to the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy, Oil and Gas UK call on Ministers to implement the recommendations of Professor John Perkins’ Review of Engineering Skills to increase the number of trained engineers and encourage the take up of STEM subjects.
There are also existing industry initiatives to boost the number for example Shell’s Girls in Energy programme. This one year programme is delivered in partnership with North East College. It delivers weekly lessons, workshops and field visits to young women aged 14– 16 in secondary education with a view to expanding their understanding of what a career in the energy industry could involve.