Gender is a business issue, not a "women's issue". The under-use of women's talent has an impact on the bottom-line. Organizations that see women not as a problem but as a solution and treats them not as minority but as full partners in leadership are the organizations that are able to make use of their full potential.
An organization's success and competitiveness is realized when it can successfully manage a diverse and inclusive workforce. The oil industry has been historically a male-dominated sector. For example, per the European Labor Force Survey, females comprise only 9% of UK engineering professionals, 18% in Spain, 26% in Sweden, and 20% in Italy.
Companies are often not ready to seamlessly absorb women into the oil sector, especially in the Middle East, due to many factors. General issues include females' dual life style (work and home) roles, accommodation for females, challenging work hours, and feeling insecure and unsafe in remote locations. Middle Eastern-specific issues include culture and religion; for example, a family's acceptance of their daughter/spouse working on a rig among male colleagues and spending nights and weeks away from the family house.
Oil companies are now focusing more on targeting female engineers to bring diversity to the oil industry. Those selected engineers are required to undergo certain orientation and training programs that should help them get harmonized in the industry.
The goal is an approach to gender that includes both halves of the human race. The aim is a new kind of "bilingual" leadership, one that maximizes the abilities and potential of both men and women by recognizing the competitive advantages of our complementary skills and natures. Successful integration of women would ensure greater benefits for the oil industry and create a more equitable society. Such integration is not easy but, when done well, it can have a transformative effect. This paper does not take the view that women are better than men. It takes view on how to capitalize on both genders in an organization. It will discuss issues and solutions for this new direction of the industry.