“We could be concerned as much with sticky floors as we
are with glass ceilings” Marie-José Nadeau (Alagos, 2015).
Recent history has been marked by women’s changing role in both society and the workplace. At work, male fiefdoms have been cracked open with educated and ambitious women now playing an increasingly active part across a range of professions. Today, we see women doctors, lawyers, journalists and entrepreneurs rising up the ladder of their respective careers.
Sadly, the energy sector, especially the oil and gas industry, has lagged behind other industries. Working conditions in this industry are not easy; workers often have to face extreme heat or biting cold while carrying out physically strenuous operations in remote locations. Traditionally, this was considered to be a male domain but increasingly women are choosing to accept the challenge and are now playing an active part in key activities such as exploring and producing hydrocarbons for an energy-hungry world. As the remarkable women profiled in this book testify, the oil industry is being transformed step-by-step, woman-by-woman as individual women make personal career choices that take them to new frontiers.
This change is being driven by women themselves and the choices they make. The way women perceive themselves and their role at work has changed irrevocably as they opt for education pathways in science, technology and management. However, as they embark on their careers they still face resistance at every stage. Individual attitudes of men towards women have clearly improved but many corporations still lag behind in terms of policies and attitudes. This needs to change.
A report by McKinsey & Company (2015) states that women are still underrepresented at every level in the corporate pipeline. The report points out that:
Many people assume this is because women are leaving companies at higher rates than men or due to difficulties balancing work and family. However, our analysis tells a more complex story: women face greater barriers to advancement and a steeper path to senior leadership.
There are hopeful signs of changing attitudes at the top of the corporate ladder. There is a widespread recognition that female leadership in organizations adds value and ensures optimum performance. Yet, as the McKinsey report points out
…based on the slow rate of progress over the last three years, it will take twenty-five years to reach gender parity at the senior-VP level and more than one hundred years in the C-suite. While CEO commitment to gender diversity is high, organizations need to make a significant and sustained investment to change company practices and culture so women can achieve their full potential.
The women profiled in this book are pioneers in their field. We need to break down barriers but above all we need to encourage more young women to follow their path. We cannot create leaders unless the pipeline is full. Not everyone has leadership potential and the pool needs to be larger if more women are to achieve a place in the C-suite. Fortunately, we are on the right track as this book so admirably shows.
Marie-José Nadeau, C.M.
Chair, World Energy Council (2013 – 2016)
 Marie-José Nadeau was elected the first female chair in the 90-year history of the World Energy Council (WEC) in 2013. She was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada (C.M.) in December 2015. Source: World Energy Council