April 16, 2015 | The State Journal
West Virginia's oil and gas work force is predominantly male, something trade groups are trying to change with a new group mentoring program that will partner experienced professionals with women just starting out in the industry.
“There are so many opportunities, for us not to reach out to women who have the qualifications and interest would be a disservice,” said Rebekah Hogue, communications director for West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association.
WVONGA partnered with Young Professional Women in Energy and the Women's Energy Network for a two-day “Embracing Energy” conference April 14-15 at Oglebay Resort in Wheeling. The conference, geared exclusively to women, addressed negotiation strategies for women as well as the “mindset” of success.
The goal, Hogue said, is to encourage more women to pursue jobs in the male-dominated oil and gas industry. Just 19 percent of the industry work force is female.
“It's not just about (working as) rig-hands,” Hogue said. “It's jobs in marketing, accounting, engineering. There's a vast array of positions (out there), but people key in on the rig-hand image.”
Allison Valli, senior partner with Sewickley, Pennsylvania-based Clearwater Consulting Group, said the new mentoring program partners seasoned professionals with three or four women new to the industry. So far, 11 mentors have signed on.
Groups will meet once each month, each establishing their own goals, she said. Whatever their focus, she said newcomers will be able to leverage the “wisdom and experiences” of their mentors.
“It's important to have role models to pave the way for other women, and for women to give back to the industry and other women,” she said.
Shirley Wulf of Florida-based BehaviorSmarts, said the mentor-mentee relationships are built on a shared commitment to the process and each other. She said program participants are pleased with the number of women who have signed on, both as mentor and mentee.