Young girls need role models in order to pursue careers in the oil and gas industry, said panellists at Fueling the Future on Wednesday.
The presenters, during a morning session at the Women in Oil and Gas conference, tackled the question: What strategies can be developed to encourage girls and young women to consider the industry as a career?
Holly Baker is the administrator of the Student Summer Employment Program for Women in Science and Engineering Newfoundland and Labrador, a non-profit volunteer organization that aims to increase women’s participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.
She said since 1990, the summer employment program — which combines an eight-week job placement with workplace tours and networking opportunities for high school girls — has mentored almost 700 students, 97 per cent of whom have gone to post-secondary education and two-thirds of them have gone on to science and engineering careers.
“It’s great to encourage younger girls to get interested in science and engineering, but we decided to target 16- and 17-year-olds, so right after they’ve finished Grade 11, and this is before they’ve made any big decisions about their post-secondary education, so they still have time to think about things and make decisions that affect their career path,” Baker said.
She added the program’s success is also due to its pairing of girls with professionals who can answer questions about careers in science and engineering.
Baker added the program’s success is also due to its pairing of girls with professionals who can answer questions about careers in science and engineering.
The Techsploration program, put on by Women in Resource Development Corp., is a similar program that targets girls in Grade 9 and pairs them with a role model from the industry.
“They get to see hands-on and up close and personal what the jobs are, what they entail,” said Mary Clarke, the corporation’s community outreach co-ordinator. Work-site tours are combined with research and presentations about the jobs being explored.
“We couldn’t do it without the role models. The role models are the ones who make it,” said Clarke. “They are the women that are in the jobs that the little girls look up to and say ‘I want to be that when I grow up.’”
For John Connors of the Council of Marine Professional Associates (COMPASS), girls’ interest in marine careers will be crucial for the marine transportation industry to overcome a drastic shortage of qualified personnel.
The council has embarked
upon an extensive recruitment campaign that involves generic promotional material as well as ads that specifically target women, part of a deliberate gender equity strategy.
“COMPASS didn’t hope to take a lead in gender equity, we planned to take a lead in creating gender equity,” he said.