High Energy Women of the Marcellus (And Others)

NEPA Energy - Johnny Williams Johnny Williams

Freelance Journalist


The shale revolution has put several high-energy women of the Marcellus (and other shale plays) into leadership positions in the oil and gas industry where they do everything.

Long hours. Grueling elements. Highly strenuous labor. Hard hats and steel-toed boots. The natural gas industry sounds like the perfect job for physical guys, right?

Nonsense. Women are doing it, too.

women of the Marcellus ETECwomen

Energy Technology Education Center students before a rig simulator demonstration.

Women finding careers across all aspects of the natural gas industry is a growing trend and companies have been actively seeking them as well. Take, for example this December report from U.S. News, which recounts the story of a Spring Valley, Pa., woman that attended the Lackawanna College School of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

“I’m going to do something men do, and I’m going to do it better,” Shelly Alexander had said. “That’s what I’ve done my whole life.”

So she began attending the school, which boasts a 90 percent job placement rate upon graduation, and earned her associate’s degree in Petroleum and Natural Gas Measurement, and the article notes that women entering the industry is not limited to the Marcellus.

“We need more women, more workers,” Randy Pacheco, dean of the San Juan College School of Energy in New Mexico, said. “The energy companies want to hire them.”

Chevron is one such energy company, investing millions in getting more girls involved with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

“These science and engineering skills are what leads to innovation,” Manager of Education and Corporate Programs Blair Blackwell had said. “The numbers also show that STEM jobs are growing, STEM jobs pay more, and there is plenty of room within those science and engineering jobs for women and minorities.”

Various energy women’s networks also are available across Pennsylvania as well, looking to promote women in the industry to show that it is not just a “man’s job”.

YPWE, for example, advocates through media, newsletters, blogs and more to promote more women holding careers in the in the energy industries through workforce development, mentoring and education. The organization has chapters in both Pittsburgh and West Virginia.

The Women’s Energy Network (WEN) also has branches from Texas to Pennsylvania and consists of 3,000 women with careers in energy.

“WEN is an international organization of professional women who work across the energy value chain,” the organization’s website states. “Our mission is to develop programs to provide networking opportunities and foster career and leadership development of women who work in the energy industries.”

WEN was founded in 1994 and continues to hold events and presentations looking to make women aware that there are lots of opportunities available to them in the oil and gas industry.

women of the Marcellus - professional Karen Hubbard

Karen Hubbard

Karen Hubbard, a technical sales representative for Allied Horizontal Wireline Services, said that WEN is even looking to grow further into northeastern Pennsylvania. Hubbard has been working in the industry since the Marcellus boom began and wouldn’t trade it at all.

“I started out developing hard drives for a fracking unit, and at that time I lived in Lock Haven,” she said. “But I wanted to be more involved with people and began working for a transportation company.”

Hubbard went on to say that the work took her all across Pennsylvania and even into Ohio, and then the opportunity arrived to go to Texas, where she got the opportunity to join Baker Hughes.

“It was quite the role-reversal,” she said. “Usually the thought was people from Texas are coming up to Pennsylvania, so me going there was the opposite of that. They were looking for a local person, looking for someone with experience in the Marcellus, which I had.”

Hubbard is the only representative for AHWS located in northeastern Pennsylvania and has also been featured as a speaker and lecturer for oil and gas classes at Lackawanna College and other organizations.

“I’m really fortunate to be trained in the gas field and to able to give back to the community and the next workforce generation is really special. There is still that professional image to uphold and representing ourselves in that manner is still important. Education never stops.”

What a fantastic industry oil and gas is for both women and men.

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