Energy giant Shell yesterday hosted Scottish schoolgirls at an Aberdeen event aimed at addressing gender balance issues in the oil sector.
More than 100 girls form secondary schools in the north-east and Fife took part in the oil major’s annual Girls in Energy (GIE) conference.
The conference was held at the end of a week when Shell revealed its male employees in the UK were still getting paid 22.2% more than women on average.
Shell said this was due to there being fewer women in senior leadership positions, and also fewer in technical or trading roles which attract higher pay.
Shell said it was making progress tackling a big gender imbalance in its UK workforce.
GIE, held at Shell’s base at Woodbank, aims to attract girls to the Stem subjects − science, technology, engineering and maths − and encourage them to consider careers in the energy sector.
The girls had to come up with ideas for powering a city in the future with clean and affordable energy.
They then presented their ideas in a Dragons’ Den-esque finale to a panel of business leaders as part of the Bright Ideas Energy Challenge.
In attendance was Abbey Thomson, who joined Shell’s GIE programme at the age of 14.
Now 20, Ms Thomson is an apprentice instrument technician at St Fergus Gas Plant.
She said the programme had opened her eyes to a career she had never previously considered.
She said: “Before participating in the initiative, I associated the industry with grey haired men in boiler suits working on large platforms offshore.
“On the first day of GIE, I was handed a boiler suit and safety boots, not quite knowing what I had signed up for.
“However, it turned out to be the most influential class I had taken. The time I spent on GIE gave me a unique opportunity to gain an in-depth knowledge of the industry.
“GIE enabled me to develop communication skills, interpersonal skills and allowed me to learn about setting my own pace for learning.
“I have carried these skills with me through my Shell engineering scheme and into my current role as an apprentice instrument technician.
“I thoroughly enjoy my role as an apprentice and I look forward to becoming a fully qualified instrument technician.
“I have been afforded several opportunities throughout the early days of my career and I look forward to creating future opportunities.”
Steve Phimister, Shell’s upstream vice-president, UK and Ireland, said: “Today has been a fabulous day. I’ve really enjoyed it. There has been lots of energy today from the girls, who have really been applying themselves to the challenge.
“Girls in Energy is a really important programme to us. It’s part of a wide range of programmes we have to encourage young people to come into the industry, particularly girls, who are under-represented.
“As we go forward, what we want to see is lots of young men and women coming into Stem subjects, coming into industry and helping to shape the future energy transition.”
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