New Book Highlights Women’s Contributions to Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration
Breaking the GAS Ceiling: Women in the Offshore Oil & Gas Industry (Modern History Press; May 1st, 2019) is the result of author Rebecca Ponton’s desire to record and preserve a missing piece of the history of the offshore oil and gas industry, which is the role of women’s contributions to the sector.
Marie-José Nadeau, the immediate past chair (2013 – 2016) and first woman chair in the history of the World Energy Council, has written the Foreword.
In the book, which has been said to read like a collection of short stories, Rebecca has written “condensed biographies” of 23 women of various nationalities, ages, and positions within the industry, many of whom have achieved “firsts” in their fields, including Abby Ross Hopper, the first woman director of the US Bureau of Ocean Energy; Deirdre Michie, the first female chief executive of Oil & Gas UK; Anne Grete Ellingsen, the first woman OIM in the North Sea and former Deputy Minister of Petroleum & Energy in Norway; and Sara Akbar, the only female oilfield firefighter during the Gulf War and former CEO of Kuwait Energy, to name a few.
In order to reach as wide an audience as possible, including the up and coming generation of energy industry leaders, Rebecca made it a point to seek out and interview young women who are making their mark in the sector as well. Twenty-one year old American Alyssa Michalke, the first female commander of the Texas A & M Corps of Cadets, and an Ocean Engineering major, is featured in the book, along with 24-year old British geotechnical engineer Scarlett Mummery (blogger at The Offshore Blondie); 24-year old Sudanese-Australian mechanical engineer Yassmin Abdel-Magied (author of the autobiography Yassmin’s Story); and 25-year old Arlete Jandira, Sonangol’s first female marine engineer. Illustrating the diversity of opportunities within the industry, the book also includes interviews with an offshore helicopter pilot, the first female saturation diver in the Gulf of Mexico, a photographer/videographer of offshore installations, the artist who created the Piper Alpha memorial, and others.
It is Rebecca’s hope that the book not only will help preserve history, but serve as a written form of mentorship based upon the wisdom and insight of the women profiled within its pages.
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