Texas A&M University at Qatar, a Qatar Foundation partner university, recently hosted the roundtable, ‘Women in Energy’, at which Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources, and Natalie Baker, Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Embassy in Qatar, participated. They discussed the changes in the industry over the last few decades, the increase in women engineers, and the challenges and solutions for women working in the energy sector.

Texas A&M at Qatar Dean César Octavio Malavé, several female current students and alumni, and members of the faculty and staff participated in the event. Dr. Ghada Salama, instructional professor of chemical engineering and Dr. Dhabia Al-Mohannadi ‘12, research assistant professor, Chemical Engineering, were the faculty representatives. Tabarak Abdulhussein ’18, Abeer Abuhelaiqa ’11, Maryam Al-Bishri ‘11, Leela Elzayat, Byanne Malluhi, and Al-Anoud Al Emadi represented the student body.

“It was an honor to be part of this roundtable discussion,” said Al-Emadi, an undergraduate electrical and computer engineering student at Texas A&M at Qatar. “This panel discussion highlighted several topics that are very important to me as a woman pursuing an engineering degree. Women are often underrepresented in these meetings in this industry, but we are seeing a positive change. We discussed how we can overcome some of the challenges that we as women engineers can face in the energy sector. It was also interesting to hear the perspectives from Ambassador Pyatt, and other successful female Aggie engineers.”

Ambassador Pyatt applauded the university for its work towards developing female engineers and said, “Education is one of the most powerful tools we have to empower women. It is a time of massive transformations in the energy sector worldwide, and it is more important than ever to ensure that we have people from diverse backgrounds in this ecosystem. We have to continue to champion women’s voices in STEM.”

Dr. César Octavio Malavé, dean of Texas A&M at Qatar, said: Texas A&M is here in Qatar to educate engineers — particularly female engineers — and to empower women and girls to contribute to the success of their country. Nearly 50 percent of our engineering students are female. That’s double the national average of women in engineering in the United States. In addition to attracting more girls to study engineering, we must also support and empower women once they’ve graduated from Texas A&M and entered the workplace. It is my sincere hope that we can provide positive role models and mentors to all women in girls in Qatar.”

During the discussion, the participants highlighted how there has been a significant improvement in the engineering sector in women’s representation and participation, particularly as decision-makers. They stressed the need for continuing professional education to ensure that there is continuous development once they graduate from university. They also spoke about various challenges including unconscious biases against female engineers, maternity leave and how a possibility of flexible work will allow more women to succeed.

Some participants expressed optimism for the future as the need for engineers grows as the world continues to rely on petroleum and liquified natural gas to meet energy demands.

Source: Texas A&M University at Qatar