WOMEN IN THE EXTRACTIVE SECTOR
The 99.3 Nigeria Info FM Morning Crossfire today features the work of one of the female reporters who is a fellow of Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism. She is Opeoluwani Akintayo, a female reporter who reports newspaper frontpage stories of issues that happen in the oil and gas sector. This is a male-dominated sector when you talk about reporters. No doubt, she came across a lot of hindrances both before she started her career and during her time on the job.
Opeoluwani recounts her experience as a female reporter in the oil and gas sub-sector and calls it something that is a ‘little challenging’. “In journalism, the energy sector is dominated by males. Few female reporters go into it because of the technicalities in it. You find it so difficult especially when you find so many males working there and you don’t want to be the only woman working in the midst of these men. It may just occur that they may push one aside.
“I started as an entertainment reporter. But I was not satisfied. I wanted something challenging that will distinguish me in my profession so I pushed for transfer into the energy beat. When I was Daily Times, I got that opportunity. Vanguard newspapers didn’t give me the opportunity because the editor didn’t see me as someone who could be successful in that sector because I didn’t know anything at the time. But Daily Times gave me the opportunity and I began reporting about crude oil and other issues in that sector.
“It’s been interesting because reporting energy sector is not the same as reporting the soft beats. Here you have to work with data, statistics, analysis, deep knowledge of the sector and technical terminologies. By the time I got to sweet crude, I was already like an expert. I was on top of my game and I was doing stories with data that distinguished me from fellow female colleagues. In Lagos, we have just two females reporting energy. Yesterday was our annual conference and we were just two females in the midst of almost 20 men.
“The challenges are that companies take female energy reporters less seriously. It is also tough for editors to tell female correspondents to go for energy beats. They would rather tell them to go for entertainment. Many women accept the status quo. It takes more for a woman to convince the editors to give her a chance to do big stories in energy.”
The fellow program on Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative journalism has only one female that report energy sector stories and Opeoluwani Akintayo is the one. She decided to go for it although most of the executives in the sector are males.
Research reveals that the petroleum industry in Nigeria is the largest on the African continent. As of 2014, Nigeria's petroleum industry contributes about 14% to its economy. Though the petroleum sector is important, it remains a fraction of the country's overall economy. This figure is projected to hit $15 billion within the next few years. The 2017 World Petroleum Council and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) report revealed that women constitute 38% of the workforce in major oil-producing nations.
From this figure, an average of 22 percent is directly part of the oil and gas sector. It further disclosed that women account for 27 percent of entry-level positions that require college degrees, 25% of mid-career roles, 17 percent of senior and executive-level roles, and 1 percent of CEOs. This reveals a decline in the upward movement of females in the industry which is often the case in other sectors.
In Ghana, the Ministry of Education has organized STEM clinics to generate interest in the sciences for girls. Ghana Chamber of Mines take road shows to girls secondary schools to encourage interest in mining.
Check the video below for more and leave comments
Opeoluwani Akintayo – Fellow, Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism
Ibilola Amao - CEO, Lonadek Oil and Gas
Faith Nwadishi - National Convener, Women in Extractives & Immediate past Member EITI International Board representing Anglophone Africa.
Written by Jude Chukwuemeka