Growing number of women directing Canada’s energy sector

Teresa Waddington is on a mission to turn her dad's oil patch into her daughter's energy garden

By James Snell
Teresa Waddington at the B.C. Natural Resources Forum in Prince George. Photo by James Snell for the Canadian Energy Centre

Teresa Waddington has a message for women contemplating a career in the oil and gas sector.

“When you look at what you should dedicate your life to, I can’t imagine a better place than energy,” she says. “We need your creativity and ability to tackle problems and the unique value set that young people, especially young women, bring to the industry.”

The chemical engineer and vice-president of corporate affairs with LNG Canada is part of a growing number of women working in oil and gas – from pipelines to refineries to boardrooms.

Waddington’s parents and siblings are engineers – a “genetic requirement” she says with a laugh. Both parents worked in oil and gas.

Decades ago, her mother was given questionable career advice upon entering the workforce – “Never use your name, just initials, so gender isn’t obvious, dress in a masculine manner, and don’t speak about your children.”

“She took that advice and threw it straight out the window,” Waddington says. “One specific memory that has shaped a lot of what I do was watching my mom grab her hardhat after she painted her nails and then heading to her job at the refinery. I’m on a mission to turn my dad’s oil patch into my daughter’s energy garden.”

According to research by the Canadian Energy Centre, nearly 31 per cent of the jobs in Canada’s oil and gas sector are held by women, while annual wages and salaries for women have increased over 30 per cent since 2009.

That’s a higher level than in the global industry. Data from Catalyst and S&P Global indicates women comprise less than one-quarter of oil and gas workers worldwide. Only 17 per cent of executives are women, while 27 percent of entry-level jobs are held by women.

With a liquefied natural gas export facility under construction in Kitimat on the west coast of B.C., LNG Canada will export Canadian natural gas to Asian markets, and in the process, put Canada on the map of LNG exporting countries.

With a capital cost of $17 billion, LNG Canada represents one of the largest energy investments in Canadian history – and Waddington is excited about the company’s role in helping reduce emissions – providing LNG to jurisdictions currently reliant on coal-fired power. She’s also determined to ensure LNG Canada’s workforce reflects the communities in which the company operates.

“We are trying to ensure that we are helping upskill a Canadian workforce for an industry that’s never existed here on this scale before,” she says. “Our ability to affect massive change both on how Canada plays a role in the energy transition and decarbonizing and offering lower emissions fuel to the globe is profound – anything that impacts global climate in a positive way is a good step forward for everyone.”

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