Gender diversity mooted in Oman Oil & Gas workforce

Conrad Prabhu –
Muscat, DEC 31 –
Omani women constitute less than 10 per cent of the workforce in Oman’s Oil & Gas sector — a gender imbalance that must be suitably tackled through the implementation of a number of employment-related measures, according to a key study by the Ministry of Higher Education.
The Female Empowerment Survey, undertaken by the Ministry in collaboration with Oman Society of Petroleum Services (OPAL), sought to understand the demographical composition of the Sultanate’s Oil & Gas industry with a view to being suitably geared to meeting the educational, professional and entrepreneurial aspirations of young Omani women.
As many as 1,735 women, who were employed in the sector, or had resigned or rejected offers to work in the industry, were invited to participate in the survey. Of this number, 1182 women eventually did complete the survey. They offered their opinions on two broad themes: (i) their reasons for opting to work in the Oil & Gas sector, and (ii) concerns, if any, to be working in the oilfield areas in an essentially male-dominated industry while aspiring for career growth as well.
Based on feedback garnered from the respondents, the ministry underlined the need for steps to enhance the presence of women in both office and field-based jobs in the Oil & Gas sector. Females constitute less than 10 per cent of the employees in the Oil and Gas Sector in Oman, it stated in its report. In contrast, females constitute 20-25 per cent of the workforce in the global oil and gas industry (World Petroleum Council, 2017), it said.
“Companies could tap the abundance of qualified females to increase their participation rate in this sector, utilising their willingness to work in both office-based and site locations as expressed in this survey (by providing the required facilities). More than two-thirds of females working in the sector are originally from Muscat. It might be worthwhile directing future recruiting efforts to support an equal representation from the governorates,” the report stated.
Additionally, the study called for improvements and enhancements in private sector maternity benefits to help retain and attract more female employees. It explained: “As most of the female population in the Oil and Gas sector are younger than 40 years, married and with 5-year-old or younger kids, family education/health plans and maternity leave are top priorities for females.”
The Oman Labour Law limits maternity leave privileges to a maximum of three sets of maternity holidays. “This article is not helping in attracting females to the private sector in general and to the Oil and Gas in specific. Other articles in the (Labour) Law which may limit attracting females into the private sector are Article (81) and Article (82) which respectively state : ‘Females shall not be required to work between nine pm and six am save in cases, works, and occasions specified by a decision by the minister’; and ‘Women shall not be required to perform works which are harmful to the health or hard works or such other works as may be specified by a decision of the minister’,” the Female Empowerment Report noted.
In their responses to the online survey, many women called for, among other privileges, breastfeeding hours and part-time working post maternity. More than a third of the respondents said the ‘three-leaves’ limit for maternity leave would compel them to quit their jobs.
Importantly, the report called for efforts to boost the number of women in senior positions in the industry, and to put in place clear career progression plans for women. At least 31 per cent of the respondents said they were given less opportunities for career progression than males.
Incidentally, women account for less than three per cent of the total workforce in the oilfield areas. Even so, a third of the respondents said they would consider relocation to oilfield sites if their jobs come with clear career growth plans along with health and education benefits for family members.