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Attracting women to careers in oil and gasAlmost half the employees at the oil company Wintershall Norge are women - in an industry where eight out of ten are men.

“I would encourage other oil companies to boost their proportion of female employees”, says Wintershall’s Personnel Manager Tone Samuelsen.

“It’s just like a magnet. Everyone in this business knows everyone else. Potential job seekers don’t hesitate to call women already employed at Wintershall to find out what it’s like to work here. I believe that many of my excellent female colleagues act as ambassadors for getting the best”, says Personnel Manager Tone Samuelsen at Wintershall Norge.

Our conscious effort to increase the proportion of women, especially in technical positions, has worked. Forty-four per cent of employees at Wintershall's Norwegian subsidiary are women. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the oil and gas sector where the proportion is a miserable 19.5 per cent.

Forty-nine year-old Angunn Øvrebø is working on technical documentation linked to the Maria field in the Norwegian Sea, where Wintershall is generating much excitement with its current appraisal well. Angunn applied to Wintershall after a female acquaintance working on the Maria field dropped a hint that the position would be announced.

“She said that there were many women working here and that the working environment was excellent. I think it was this which made up my mind, but I would have applied anyway”, says Øvrebø.

According to Statistics Norway, the oil and gas sector and its supply industry distinguishes itself from other industries in two ways – its employees are extremely well qualified, and it employs very few women.

There is no doubt that the oil and gas industry is more male-dominated than the rest of the private sector. In 2010 the proportion of women in the oil and gas industry was 19.5 per cent, compared with 37.5 per cent for the rest of the private sector.

The proportion of women has increased a little from 16.5 to 19.5 per cent in the period between 2003 and 2010. In particular this increase is among women with higher education qualifications. While 53 per cent of women employed had qualifications from universities and colleges, the equivalent figure for male employees was 34 per cent.

Needed balance

Angunn Øvrebø came to Wintershall’s Norwegian head office from the oil company Norske Shell. At the next desk sits 48 year-old engineer Anne Lise Fjælberg, who has been working on the Maria project since October last year. She arrived at Wintershall from Statoil.

“I saw an ad in the paper but didn’t realise that there were so many women here”, she says. “It has been very positive for me, but what made me apply was coming to a smaller company establishing itself in Norway and giving me the chance to be in at the beginning of a project”, says Fjælberg.

Ellen Braune is fifty, and is Wintershall’s Drilling and Well Operations Manager. She says that the men who established the Norwegian oil company Revus employed a number of highly qualified women because they needed a balance. Braune became an employee at Wintershall following its buy-out of Revus in 2009.

“They decided that they had to employ more women. The working environment has become more positive as a result. I believe that creativity received a boost”, says Braune.

She says that a 44 per cent proportion of women is not an aim in itself.

“We want to recruit good women”, says Braune. “As long as they well qualified, increasing the proportion of women is a bonus. It has a beneficial effect on the office environment and generates a very positive atmosphere. I also believe that many of our younger personnel see this as an opportunity to move higher up the system”, she says.

Plans to recruit 60

Personnel Manager Tone Samuelsen says that the company’s policy is to recruit the best while at the same time aiming to employ a high proportion of women. There are four women among the ten top management positions at the company. The Board has three women representatives among its seven members.

The company currently employs 150 persons from 17 different countries.

Samuelsen says that it is important to have a diverse workforce in terms of gender, age, education, nationality and background.

“This year we will be recruiting 60 new employees and we will continue to recruit women”, says Samuelsen.

“Will the proportion of women employed at Wintershall continue to rise?”

“We are pleased with the proportion of women we have today”, says Samuelsen. “When all's said and done our recruitment drive is all about finding the best qualified candidates”, she says.

Source: Dagens Næringsliv (08/03/2012)

Contact: Verena Sattel

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