Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ten Worst Corporations for Women to Work For: Why Should Earth Scientists Care?

The first time I saw any data about women in the geological sciences was a long time ago, but a brochure dating from the 1960's pointed out that only 2% of geologists were women (no link; this is from an old memory), and by 1989, that number was 10% (although 40% of majors at that time were female). Back then (way back then), I heard explanations that the oilfields were no place for women geologists. Not a great excuse, really, so one would hope the situation has changed for the better. Well some, maybe. There are still lots of problems. A good review of the current situation in geoscience academia, for instance, can be found on the Association for Women Geoscientists website.

I bring up the subject because of a totally unrelated business article I ran across. What does it say when a report on the 10 worst places for women to work has four energy-related companies?

Quoted from the report....
6. EOG Resources (EOG) is an oil and natural gas company with 2,100 employees and a $23 billion market cap, which makes it one of the most valuable firms in its sector. The head of human resources and administration and the head of accounting are women.

7. Cameron International (CAM) provides equipment for the national gas and oil industries. The company has 17,000 employees, eight board members, no women in positions of major responsibility. Seven senior executives are listed in the proxy–all male. Also, all board members but one are over 60–a sort of reverse age discrimination.

8. National Oilwell Varco (NOV) is an oilfield services company which provides mechanical components for oil and gas drilling projects. About 40,000 employees. Eight directors, none of which are women.

10. XTO Energy (XTO) has 3,100 employees and a market cap of $27 billion. The firm prides itself on its ability to find and import oil and natural gas. Apparently, they aren’t quite as concerned about scavenging for corporate gender diversity.
Are you interested in opportunities and challenges as a woman in the geosciences? Check out the Association for Women Geoscientists.


C W Magee said...

Judging woman friendliness simply by the makeup of the board does not seem to be a particularly robust criteria. They don't even do the stats to show whether or not a zero women board is statistically significant.

If the mean board female representation is 30% +/- 15%, then you would expect 25 companies with all male boards- and a similar number with 60% or more.

A more useful approach would be to look at hiring %ages, mean time in the company, pay disparity, promotion rates, and other actual indicators of women being treated poorly.

On the other hand, it would be good if AWG played the name and shame game with sexist universities.

Kim said...

Chuck's got a point (about needing to get different data), though I suspect that the data is more difficult to get for industries than for academia. (AGI's directory keeps track of who's working at member universities, and NSF has data on students and faculty. The AGI and NSF data show similar trends.) I know AGI's workforce group is interested in looking at diversity in industry, but I don't know how easy it is to get the data.

Garry Hayes said...

You are both absolutely right; I ran across the article (late at night!), and did a quick search on employment trends in industry and could find very little data (as my post reveals!). I did the post because I don't think 40% of the Fortune 500 companies are energy related, but by the parameters selected, 40% of them made this top 10 list. I was just curious about whether the "good old boy" network still exists in the industry. The observations here don't prove anything, but it would be interesting to see if there have been as many inroads into industry as there have in academic circles or government organizations like the USGS.

Unknown said...

The makeup of the board may not be all that representative about a company as a whole; it's a whole separate issue of how underrepresented women are generally in upper management of large companies.

I could come at this from an anecdotal (whee!) angle, though. I work for a fairly large oil and gas company, and it just takes a quick look through the company directory to get a sense of where things are at. In my own department, all of the geologists - even the new hires - are men. Oddly enough, all of the geo techs and engineering techs are women. We do have a pretty significant number of female engineers, on the other hand, and one of the resource managers is a woman.

I tend to think that my company's pretty forward looking, so I guess the question is, if the weird proportions of men to women have to do with any kind of hiring prejudice, or have to do with the way the applicants fall. (As in... maybe a lot of women don't want to work in oil and gas?) My first year as an intern here, only one of the other interns was female (our of seven) and she was in engineering.

I'd also be curious to see what the demographics are like for professional organizations like the AAPG. At last year's convention, I think we were still pretty handily outnumbered.