There's a new economic boom occurring right now, and one that has happened in a stealthy manner. High oil prices and new drilling technologies have revolutionized the energy industry — once again.
According to Maribeth Anderson, director of corporate development for Chesapeake Energy Corp., the industry is projected to produce more than 17,000 jobs by 2020 (via Charleston Daily News) and Kirk Siegler at NPR reported that graduates in petroleum engineering from Colorado School of Mines have a starting salary of $79,000. That's right. A starting salary of $79,000.
But one gender is disproportionately benefiting from the boom. ExxonMobil reported that only 26 percent of women currently make up its entire international workforce.
So, why are women not represented in this field and should we even care? Seems kind of boring, in my opinion, especially when I hear of how they teach it in school. I can already feel myself nodding away to the thought.
But I spoke to Latha Ramchand, Dean at the University of Houston's Bauer College of Business, a couple of weeks ago, and some of the arguments she made seemed to make sense. She says women should start taking interests because we have "just the right skills for it."
Here's what the Dean had to say:
"If you look at what the energy industry faces, one thing I've noticed are the global challenges. Yes, you need to understand the economics and have the technical skills, but you also need to have the natural skills that women exhibit. Women are better equipped to deal with uncomfortable situations, and this happens in the energy sector as you often find yourself interacting with people who speak different languages or come from different cultures."
According to Ramchand, women have a knack for making others feel comfortable and you need to be able to do this when negotiating with different groups of people from different backgrounds.
"Women are better at saying it's not about me, it's about the company," Ramchand says. "Going forward, I think we will see more women in leadership positions in this field."
Here's the argument: I'm not saying men don't have the "right skills." They obviously do since they represent basically the entire industry, but what the Dean said made sense. In the energy industry, there will be times when you'll have to work with people who come from very different backgrounds than yourself. And who to better make people feel comfortable than women?
And yes, maybe you can argue this for all industries now, especially since our workplace has become so diverse. What makes the energy industry different than every other industry? Well, not all industries are thriving and the energy sector is.
So maybe, ladies, we should start thinking outside the box, outside our norm career paths where women typically dominate. Maybe we should start stepping into their boundaries, make them feel a little uncomfortable and start profiting from what's always been known as a man's world, which is the energy industry, in my opinion, if you haven't noticed.
Furthermore, we should start thinking this way with all career choices. Not just this industry, that industry, this specialization, or that one. But then again, easy for me to say, I'm in journalism, which is dominated by women. One day, I'll start taking my own advice.