“We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea.” – Joy Bell C.
And venture into the unknown did these brave women.
A report by the Boston Consulting Group conveys that only 22 percent of the workforce in oil and gas are women. This is one of the smallest ratios among major industries. Only construction ranked lower, where only 11 percent are female. Finance had 39 percent, while health and social work had 60 percent.
Ryu Bokyoung joined the South Korea’s top refiner, SK Innovation Co. in 2012. Back then, women’s bathrooms at some refineries are a relatively new addition, and the term ‘oilman’ has its own dictionary entry. In a profession where about 80 percent of the global workforce is male, Women like Ryu are trailblazers.
Now twenty-eight and considering her options for when she has children, the female engineer worries about having to lay off from work as a safety measure for a pregnant woman and having to be away from the baby when it is born.
“If I were a man, these are things I wouldn’t have to worry about.”
Ryu is a believer that she is capable of anything that men can. In the expanded Ulsan refinery in South Korea, you will either find her scaling 100-meter steel towers or working through the night when repairing the plant. She has never let challenges that come with being a woman in the traditionally male-dominated oil industry stop her.
As a result of the collapse in crude prices that began three years ago, Big Oil is reevaluating its business model and discerning that having more women employers has major profitability benefits.
Asian firms used to be way behind other regions when it comes to gender diversity, but they are now catching up fast. An example is Japan’s Showa Shell Sekiyu who are currently focusing more on female workers.
According to Ayumi Takahashi, who joined Showa Shell more than twenty years ago, the few women who were sent to gas stations would have their abilities questioned by the men who owned the service stands. She says women still pretty much face gender discrimination in the industry.
Takahashi is now a manager in the oil business research and development division at Showa Shell. How she dealt with the doubts of the men who questioned what women could possibly offer was golden:
“Every woman definitely experiences it at one time or another… We repeatedly face hardships but keep going.”
If there is one common attribute that these women have that you must follow, it’s courage. There are many things that women can contribute for the betterment of the world. Don’t get tangled up in the same old standards. Your perseverance and resulting excellence can change those.