PerSPEctive

Women’s Role in the Oil and Gas Industry

Celeste A. Pastorini

In her article, Celeste Pastorini discusses the role of women in the oil and gas industry. Over the years, women have overcome a male-dominated culture to help steer the petroleum industry into a better future. With the growing need for technical and managerial expertise, the industry will need the best minds to help find, develop, and produce enough oil and gas to meet global needs. So stay positive and accept the challenge, because the industry awaits you!—Léon Beugelsdijk, YEPP PerSPEctive Editor


Since George Bisell imagined a multimillion-dollar business through the sale of “mineral oil,” the petroleum industry has unfolded in an almost exclusively male environment. Nevertheless, each day there are more women who have the opportunity and decide to enter this industry and challenge the status quo.

People used to think that the petroleum industry was not a proper place for women, given the physical demands and the dangers involved in some operations. But managers from the different industry sectors now recognize the need to attract the best graduates, those who have the potential to quickly master the training and move beyond working in the field to perform knowledge- and experience-based tasks that do not necessarily involve participation in field operations. Motivation, enthusiasm, and initiative are personal qualities sought by the industry, and those can easily be found in women.

In recent years, particularly at service companies, women have proved to be capable of delivering high work performance comparable to their male colleagues. The potential career development of women in our industry is no different from that of men. Under this scenario, I believe the most difficult question to answer is: What motivates women to choose the petroleum industry for a professional career? Speaking for myself, being born in a city where the E&P industry is a very important activity and in a family environment linked to the industry, the petroleum industry was a natural choice. Life, school, and work allowed me to meet other young women who had decided to work in the oil and gas sector. Our anecdotes may differ, but we all agree on one important thing: the possibility to develop professionally and face new challenges, the personal and professional experience of working in multidisciplinary and multicultural groups, the possibility to freely contribute ideas to help streamline E&P processes, the dynamic nature of the business, and the new technologies are all factors that make the petroleum industry very attractive.

Today, women are forging ahead with determination and effort, helping the growth of this industry, working to harmonize within a traditionally male labor environment, and delivering high-quality professional performance with commitment, leadership, strength, drive, and charisma. For women, working in this industry is more

The main challenge for women in the oil and gas industry is finding a balance between professional and personal life. Early in a career, it is necessary to develop technical expertise, because this will be the cornerstone of your future professional development. Being able to acquire wide experience in the technical and operational aspects of work usually requires some small sacrifices regarding your personal life and interests outside work. Most companies understand the need to strike the right family/work balance and, in spite of professional demands, try to make it possible for employees to find ways to harmonize work responsibilities with personal needs.

It is not a simple task, and it is something that we have to constantly learn on the go, because professional and family demands change over time. But, nonetheless, it is doable. The key is to always bear in mind that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and because of this, it is necessary to take care of both aspects in life.

Under this scenario, I believe the most difficult question to answer is: What motivates women to choose the petroleum industry for a professional career?  Speaking for myself, being born in a city where the E&P industry is a very important activity and in a family environment linked to the industry, the petroleum industry was a natural choice. Life, school, and work allowed me to meet other young women who had decided to work in the oil and gas sector. Our anecdotes may differ, but we all agree on one important thing: the possibility to develop professionally and face new challenges, the personal and professional experience of working in multidisciplinary and multicultural groups, the possibility to freely contribute ideas to help streamline E&P processes, the dynamic nature of the business, and the new technologies are all factors that make the petroleum industry very attractive.

Today, women are forging ahead with determination and effort, helping the growth of this industry, working to harmonize within a traditionally male labor environment, and delivering high-quality professional performance with commitment, leadership, strength, drive, and charisma. For women, working in this industry is more than a regular job.


Celeste A. Pastorini earned a BS degree in petroleum engineering from U. Nacional de la Patagonia San Juan Bosco, Argentina. She is a field engineer working for Schlumberger’s Integrated Project Management program in the drilling and completion engineering department for different projects in her home country. An active SPE member since 1997, she is the SPE Golfo San Jorge Section Chairperson. Before this, she established the SPE San Juan Bosco Student Chapter in her university and served as President from 1999 to 2001. Also, she was Student Chapter Liaison for the SPE Argentina Section from 2002 to 2004.