At this year’s Women in Technology, an annual event hosted by OSU Institute of Technology, a panel of women from the energy sector told the 140 participants that opportunities for women are everywhere, and not to dismiss certain careers because they think it’s just for men.
That’s the goal of Women in Technology, to pique the interest of female teens and women about the numerous career paths in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) that are open and available to women.
The three panelists who spoke at the event on Nov. 7 come from different areas of the oil and gas industry, but all belong to the Women’s Energy Network.
WEN’s North Texas Chapter President Diana Frazier said she her family all worked in oil and gas industry so that field always interested her. She encouraged girls to follow their interests.
“There are some classes that are going to be work and some classes are fun and you really enjoy them. If you find something you enjoy, look into it,” Frazier said. “Even after working all day, when I go home at night I read petroleum magazines. I can’t get enough of it. I love that the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, the packaging our food comes in, those are all petroleum products.”
All three panelists said math and science are important in their industry, but too many young women think those subjects are too hard, or that they don’t understand them.
“It’s easy to dismiss yourself because you gave it five minutes of time and didn’t get it. Not everything can be accomplished easily, you have to work at it,” said Patricia Stamatoyannakis, a WEN member and facility engineer. “I didn’t have straight A’s, but for me, I really loved solving problems.”
In addition to the panel discussion, participants also chose one of seven interactive career tracks that each explored two different programs or divisions offered at OSUIT.
Ryah Jones, a freshman at Edison Preparatory High School in Tulsa, chose the Driving Education track and got a taste of OSUIT’s Automotive Technologies division and found out about all the different careers in the auto industry.
“I learned a lot. I like more hands-on projects,” Jones said after learning how to change a tire with an impact wrench. “It’s interesting. The car racing stuff I had thought about, but didn’t think I could actually do. But even just fixing a car seems cool now.”
Keeping your career options open was a piece of advice offered by the panelists during the question and answer session.
“Don’t roll your eyes at things or careers you don’t think you’d like because you never know,” Frazier said. “Oil and gas companies need every type of employee, not just those working in the field. They need accountants, marketing and branding experts, people who can maintain websites, office managers.”
The panelists were also asked about their accomplishments and successes as women in a more male-dominated industry.
“We have to have confidence in ourselves. The world is not going to give us what we want, you have to work for what you want,” Frazier said. “You are your own destiny maker. It takes time and it takes confidence.”
Sable Wise, special events coordinator at OSUIT, said the panelists sent a great message to those who attended and asked questions.
“They were able to bring realistic answers to the students who are accustomed to instant gratification. They let them know that they don’t need to be afraid to pursue careers in make-dominated industries, but it is work,” Wise said.