women. energy (2)

Featured speakers included Kátia Epalanga, Board Member Sonangol, Angola; Anabela Marcos, Deputy General Manager, Sonils, Angola; Katrina Fisher, Production Manager, ExxonMobil, Angola; Ivone Simeao Cardoso, Human Resources Manager, Chevron, Angola; Judite Brito, Entrepreneur, Angola; Natasha Cardoso, Business Development Manager, Oceaneering Angola; and Rossana Dos Santos, Legal Compliance Manager, Equinor Angola.

Kicking off the panel discussion, Natasha Massano, Board Member at the National Oil, Gas and Biofuels Agency of Angola, delivered an address, highlighting how mentorship programs can promote participation and training. Massano provided insight into Sonangol’s success in this area, stating that, “The mentorship program is still in the pilot stage, but we already cover 15 entities including service providers and agencies. We have 118 participants in which 74 are mentees.”

Mentorship can help facilitate knowledge sharing, unlock opportunities for women while fostering confidence and skills training. During the panel, speakers echoed Massano’s remarks, with Fisher stating that, “We need strong talent and development programs that bridge across companies and industries and provide mentorship to help women grow.”

Fisher shared how ExxonMobil is spearheading inclusivity efforts and how the organization is “committed to attracting and retaining women, supporting them at all stages in the organization.” She added that, “In Angola, we are the only business unit part of ExxonMobil that has two women in leadership positions.”

Similarly, Equinor has also made significant progress to enhance the participation of women, specifically in leadership positions within the company. Dos Santos shared that, “At Equinor, there is an equal pay of 100%, which is very important. More than 50% of women represent our corporate executive committee. Two out of five countries are also run by local women from those countries. This is really important. Within our office in Angola, we have 50% gender representation. This is in workforce and leadership and is something we are proud of.”

Angola’s National Oil Company Sonangol also continues to see an increasing number of women join the industry. According to Epalanga, when the company started, only seven women worked for Sonangol, but now, 3,000 women are employed. While this shows progress, Epalanga believes that “This is not enough: we need to implement a strategy so we see more inclusion and equity. We need a real sustainable environment in our companies.”

The conversation shifted to the practical ways industry stakeholders can address challenges associated with diversity and inclusivity. According to Marcos, “We have a lot of support, but we need to move from the idea of conversation to action. We need to try enforce laws and understand that [diversity] is part of our constitution.”  

From education to opportunity to retention and promotion, advancing the participation and contributions of women in the oil and gas industry is critical. Ivone Cardoso emphasized that, “it all starts from the ground. When it comes to the oil industry, there is more that we need to be doing to ensure we are motivating our women to continue learning and go into STEM professions. There is a lot of opportunity when it comes to engineering.”

“Thirty years ago, there were no women in leadership, only in administrative positions. Today, we are openly discussing this issue,” added Brito. “We have to have more support from men and also support from one another.”

In conclusion, Natasha Cardoso emphasized that, “Unless we overcome initial discomfort and understand that we are not doing enough, then we can focus on solutions. Overcome, find solutions and then act, continuing that cycle until it is no longer an issue. It will never be enough unless we are represented equally at every level.”