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Gender Gap and Energy Sector - Batuhan Özkan

Gender inequality, e.g., the gender wage gap, is one of the most accentuated issues within academia and international institutions. Promoting gender equality is considered as one of the most important targets to be achieved, especially in developing and undeveloped countries in the scope of development goals. In this context, there are many projects and models that have been developing worldwide on different platforms (universities, NGOs, public institutions, etc.). The energy sector is a field in which the gender gap is concretely valid. The reason why I propose this topic for the plan is a new development from the sector. The trio of women (Stacie Pitts, Carolyn Comer, and Alice Acuna) has been promoted to conducting the Royal Dutch Shell Plc's biggest trading business. Concerning this event, I will discuss the overview of women's standing in the sector, the aforementioned event itself, and implications and analysis of the current situation.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc's move follows the rival BP Plc's appointment. They charged Carol Howle as the leader of the trading and shipping unit. However, these developments draw attention and point out that the gender gap still exists in the rest of the industry, especially when we talk about top jobs. The new head of the crude trading Pitts says that:" Twenty years ago, when I started on the trading floor I was one of the few women working in this industry" and "It is so encouraging to see the progress we're making on diversity, and our leadership talent developing in the company." [1] When we go beyond Europe, Mariam Almaszade, the CEO of Azerbaijan's SOCAR Trading SA, comes to the front, and another non-European woman Hong Zhu the founders of Switzerland-based Mercuria. However, it can be said that these form the minority of the senior executives of the sector.

Source: McKinsey&Company

McKinsey has discussed this subject. The consulting firm exhibits the situation of women in the energy industry with numbers and graphs. Figure 1 demonstrates that oil and gas have the lowest percentage of entry-level women and the lowest C-suite women. It can be deduced that this sector is not so attractive and does not provide a high opportunity for advancing in the career.

Source: Women in the Workplace 2018, LeanIn.Org and McKinsey, Oct. 2018

In figure 2, we can observe the women's representation in different kinds of companies. The downward trend of women's representation in higher positions and relatively low representation in STEM and oil &gas companies is clear. However, other data may lead to wishful thinking despite the current situation. The graph prepared by S&P shows that the gap between the percentage share of female board members in other industries and the oil & gap is closing (Figure 3).

Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence

Another aspect of the gender gap in the energy sector is renewable energy. In addition to reflecting the other side of the coin, women's employment in renewable energy is important because of the development of this area and the substitutability of fossil fuels with renewable energy. In this context, the situation of the labor market of renewable energy is not only critical for today but also gives clues about the future. The study conducted by Julian Emmons Allison, Kirin McCrory, and Ian Oxnevad shed light on this issue. The article focuses on the United States and Canada, and it suggests that "The renewable energy sector is already more gender diverse than the fossil fuel industry, and promises to provide an increasing number of jobs for women as well as men, particularly in high growth solar and wind industries." Furthermore, as the article's name suggests, it emphasizes the important role of women's professional networking.

When we resort to visualization as it is done for oil and gas, according to IRENA's study, it can be said that renewable energy is a field which is much more open to advancing in career for the women in comparison with oil and gas companies.

In conclusion, the oil and gas sector is a realm in which the gender gap is deeply felt. According to my interpretation, two reasons lead to this result. The first one is the perception of this sector. Since the oil and gas sector comes to minds with technical occupations, and these jobs are mainly identified with men, women can be cool towards this field. Secondly, the current situation of the industry is paving the way for the patriarchal hegemony. In my opinion, more active participation of women in the energy sector would contribute to the destruction of gender roles and change the stereotypes in the business world.


Bloomberg. ‘’Oil’s Female Trading Trio Belies Industry’s Gender Gap.’’ Bloomberg, 12 Dec. 2020,


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