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International Women’s Day 2018: Meet Astrid

With the World Economic Forum's 2017 Global Gender Gap Report telling us that gender parity is over 200 years away - there has never been a more important time to keep motivated and #PressforProgress. Global activism for women's equality is fuelled by movements like #MeToo, #TimesUp driving a strong global momentum for gender parity. While we know that gender parity won't happen overnight, the good news is that across the world women are making positive gains day by day.

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  1. How did you end up working in the oil and energy sector?

–        I was studying space technology actually – I had no idea about the jobs that were available in the offshore industry. I was lucky though, because I had a teacher at uni who had come from the industry and he recommended me for a job at Fugro. I got the job and I have been in the industry ever since.

 

  1. What has been the most satisfying thing that you have achieved throughout your career?

–        I’ve been working in a male dominated environment throughout my entire career, which might not have suited most women. But I love it. I’ve worked offshore in the North Sea, the Med and Africa. I’ve gained experience and managed to progress from a junior position and up to middle management.

 

  1. What challenges (if any) did you face as a woman working in this industry?

–        I think the most obvious aspect is that men are different from women – even down to the basics, they talk about different things. When I started there were very few women, but things have changed a lot over the years. The industry is much more family-friendly and more woman- friendly than it used to be. There is a better environment onboard the vessels with more women around.

 

  1. Have the #MeToo or #TimesUp campaign had any impact within the offshore industry?

–        I’m pretty sure that a lot of women have experienced what we’re learning from stories coming from the #MeToo campaign, but I haven’t seen it myself. I think you have to be a little pig-headed and thick-skinned to work in this kind of industry. It’s important to be clear about what you find ok, and what is not ok. In my experience, the men I’ve worked with have always respected me for being upfront and direct. It’s probably something that is different from what you’d find in a female-dominated environment: men don’t tend to be bothered when I say it like it is.

 

  1. Do you find there is cross-over between your onshore and offshore life (i.e. do family/friends understand your work and work environment)?

–        It’s a hard-working environment to understand in the first place – it’s difficult to describe to people who have never worked in the industry. Onshore, of course it is a bit easier to understand. On the west coast of Norway for example, people know about working on rigs and boats but not about all the other jobs that exist in this industry. There are so many other types of jobs people simply don’t know about – both for men and women – and the industry needs to tackle this.

 

  1. Do you anticipate a skills-shortage in the offshore sector?

–        A lot of people left the industry in 2014/15 – as a result there are a lot more jobs available than there used to be. Quite often we struggle to hire the correct candidate to fill a position. So yes, it is always a little concerning when we have to work hard to get the right people on the job but at DeepOcean we’re committed to bringing in new talent. We work with a lot of graduates and hopefully we’ll see more companies do the same. The industry needs to recruit more young minds with enthusiasm and new ideas.

 

  1. What role do you think women have in the future of the sector?

–        I think that some women have always been attracted to working in the industry but historically it has been difficult to get into. I’m pleased that it’s changing. It used to be that 10-15 years ago women often weren’t hired because they might get pregnant and people believed they’d just quit. Now there’s a growing realisation that women can return offshore after they’ve had children – and they want to as well. This realisation is coming around because the market and the government are changing.

 

  1. What are some key issues which need to be addressed to bring more women into the sector?

–        I think the most important thing is to encourage girls at an early age to study maths and physics. There are a lot of outreach programs aimed at students but if girls haven’t been encouraged to stick with these subjects from a young age it’s near impossible to get them into the industry later on. You see women encouraged to do nursing and men to be engineers. That mindset needs to be thrown out.

 

  1. What is the most important message you want to send out to young women considering a career in oil and energy?

–        Go for it! If you really want to – go for it. You can do something unique – something that is probably totally different from anyone you know. I don’t regret choosing to work here there’s nothing I would change.