Women are continuing to change the shape of the petroleum and natural gas (PNG) workforce, and their interest in the industry has been embraced by companies like Coterra. Women make up 20 percent of the work force, a number that has grown steadily over the last decade.
The 2021-22 school year was the first during which the number of female students eclipsed males at the Lackawanna College School of Petroleum and Natural Gas in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania. Program director Sue Gumble is a graduate of the school who has been an inspiration to the female students who have followed in her footsteps. Two women that we had the honor of interviewing agree that it has been a rewarding career for them so far, and they encourage other women to look into the opportunities PNG provides.
“I liked the idea of working hands-on, and I knew that I could make a stable income and work my way up through the ranks with more years of experience,” said Crystal Bingham, who graduated in 2020. She initially interned with Coterra (then Cabot) before accepting an entry-level position at Williams Companies as a compression technician.
“I love my job,” she stated. “Everyday, I’m faced with problem solving, and I feel accomplished knowing that I have completed a task.” Julie Lewis entered the industry a few years earlier, graduating from the School in 2016 and working as a business analyst for Leatherstocking, where she also did her internship.
“This job has also allowed me to use my past skills,” Julie related. When she finished raising her children, she wanted a full-time job and ruled out some other options before deciding that the PNG industry was the right place for her. “I enjoy the freedom and trust to work independently and being valued for my skills.”
Being a woman obviously did not prevent Julie or Crystal from entering a predominantly male workforce, but they have advice for other women looking to make advances in the industry.
“If you are a woman trying to get hired in an operations or field position, be prepared to answer questions like ‘Have you ever fixed something’” said Julie. “If you want to work in the field, dress for your interview in clean, field-like attire. It’ll be easier for the interviewer to picture you there.”
Crystal insists, if the interest and desire are sincere, there’s no need to hesitate. “Anyone can be a gas technician,” she said of her job. “If you put in the work, you will succeed and be rewarded.”