Let’s Talk About Girl Power

The oil and gas sector has traditionally held a reputation of being an “old boys club”
The oil and gas sector has traditionally held a reputation of being an “old boys club”, reinforced by the lack of females in senior management and on-site engineering roles. On average, only 7-12% of senior management roles in publicly traded oil and gas companies are held by females. However, the industry is changing and recognizes the need to replace the aging workforce and fill leadership positions with people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, which includes more female representation in senior management positions and boards of directors.

Visit the following website for a Canadian perspective on the issue: www.women-oilandgas.com

Further, here is an interesting article by Susan Sherk: Women in Canada’s Oil and Gas Sector. There have been many women that have forged a path for women in the oil and gas industry. Women and men, alike, can look to these leaders as change agents that have made a significant contribution to the companies they lead, the communities they operate in and the industry as a whole.


Ann Pickard
Country Chair and Executive Vice President, Shell Australia
Described by Fortune magazine as the “bravest woman in oil”, Anne Pickard managed Shell’s operations through rebel attacks, pipeline bombings and employee kidnappings as the Regional Executive Vice President for Sub-Saharan Africa based out of Nigeria. Now overseeing the fast growing offshore industry in Australia, and the discovery of potential megafields in Western Australia, she is the most senior executive in fast-growing energy producing country. The Wyoming native originally organized batters women’s shelters before joining the oil industry in the 1980s.

Diezani Allison-Madueke
Minister of Oil for Nigeria
After previous stints as Minister of Transportation and Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Allison-Madueke became the first female Oil Minister of an OPEC country after her appointment in 2010. Leading the efforts to reform the oil industry through the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill legislation, she takes on the delicate task of keeping foreign oil companies happy while transferring more wealth from resource production to the government. Other responsibilities in the challenging position include mediating disputes with violent insurgents in the Niger Delta and developing Nigeria’s indigenous industry capacity. Allison-Madueke has an unconventional background in architecture and studied in the US and the UK before becoming Shell’s first female executive director in Nigeria.

Lynn Elsenhans
CEO and Chairman, Sunoco
Lynn Elsenhans enjoyed a 28-year career at Shell taking on senior roles in every aspect of the company’s downstream business including President and CEO of Shell Oil Products East in Singapore, Shell Oil Products USA, and eventually Executive Vice President of Global Manufacturing. She became the first female head of a major oil company after being appointed CEO and Chairman of Sunoco in 2008, a leading manufacturer and marketer of petroleum and petrochemical products. She was also ranked #10 in the Forbes list of the World’s Most Powerful Women.

Dilma Rousseff
President of Brazil
Petrobras, the $138 billion dollar petroleum company specializing in ultra-deep water offshore oil production is 55% owned by the government. Because of its majority share, the Mines and Energy Ministry controls the finances and operations of Petrobras, which ultimately reports up to the country’s first female President. With a reserve base larger than Chevron and Shell, coupled with recent mega-field offshore discoveries, including the 8 billion barrel pre-salt Tupi field, Petrobras will undoubtedly play an increasingly larger role in the global energy supply over the coming decades. As a relatively new player to the major oil producers club, Rousseff has an enormous responsibility to create and manage critical energy policy and legislation that will shape Brazil’s economic future.

Susan Riddell Rose
President and CEO, Perpetual Energy
Coming from a rock-hound family, Susan Riddell Rose, also a geologist, runs the independent natural gas producer Perpetual Energy, based in Calgary. She has been the public face for the energy industry on disputes with the government, first over regulatory disputes for gas producers in the oil sands, and again over income trust conversions. She was the former COO for Paramount Resources and began her career as a geological engineer at Shell Canada in 1990.

Marit Arnstad
Deputy Chair, Statoil 
As the deputy chair and member of the Board’s Health, Safety, Environment and Ethics committee, Marit Arnstad wrestles with the pressing issues facing the world’s largest offshore oil and gas company in the wake of the Macondo Gulf of Mexico spill. Ms. Arnstad began her career as a member of the Norwegian parliament, the Storting, for the Center Party, before becoming the country’s first Minister of Petroleum and Energy in 1997.