Women's Network Breakfast provides steps to success
by Jenny Kucera
The conversation of gender diversity in the workplace requires participation from women and men, with both genders working together to understand the barriers women face.
Women and men addressed this and related topics during the third-annual Women's Network Breakfast on Wednesday, September 25th, at the SEG Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas.
The keynote speaker for the event, Sophie Zurquiyah, has made the gender-diversity issue a priority during her 22 years in the oil services industry. Zurquiyah has had an impressive career starting with Schlumberger in 1991 as a geophysics engineer. She currently serves as CGG's senior executive vice president of the geology, geophysics, and reservoir division.
The topics of women and men can be an uncomfortable subject, and we must recognize that a shift in culture will not happen overnight.
"Women represent half of the world's population, and should be present in business in the same numbers," Zurquiyah said.
Universities are graduating small numbers of women in technical fields: 20 to 30 percent in the United States, and 50 percent in China. However, women fill less than 10 percent of management positions, and only 3 percent of SEG leadership roles.
Zurquiyah encouraged the women in the audience, particularly students, to be ambitious in taking charge of their career. She also stressed that a strong support of family is essential.
"Dual-career families need to be connected to a network of support. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but it is important to work together to find the right balance—one that makes you happy with your family or children, your job, and the time you spend with each," she said.
The Network Breakfast included lively roundtable discussions focusing on women in geophysics, their experience, and barriers to success. Attendees answered the questions of "what specific steps can you take early in your career to foster success?" and "how can women overcome internal barriers to actively steer their careers?" Women and men provided perspectives from both sides. Representatives at each table then shared highlights of the discussions with the group as a whole.
The Society of Exploration Geophysicists Women's Network was formed in 2011 with the mission to promote greater female engagement in SEG activities, create a community for mutual support among female SEG members, enhance recruiting of women to the profession, and improve retention of women in the industry.
The Women's Network's activities are coordinated by the SEG Women's Network committee. One of the first actions taken by the committee was the creation of an online community, www.seg.org/web/seg-womens-network. The committee encourages all SEG members to submit information, ideas, and resources that would benefit the group. The Women's Network is also represented on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other online platforms. In addition to the network's online presence, gatherings at annual and regional meetings form a means to establish connections for support, collaboration, and mentoring.
The Women's Network thanks its sponsors (Chevron, XTO Energy, ExxonMobil, Marathon Oil, Shell, Statoil, WesternGeco, and Geophysical Insights, LLC) for making this Network Breakfast event possible.