Geologist Angela Strank is a mother of two and the First Woman to hold the title of Technology Vice President for Lubes and Fuels at BP.
At an early age she was asking the good questions: ‘Why can’t women be High Court Judges or work offshore in the North Sea? Why can’t they be in the Navy or work on the buses?’
Angela shares her experiences with ‘First Women’ and how her strategy of simply doing her job every day, step by step helped her deal with both the opportunities and challenges that came her way.
‘I wanted to do something different and exciting with my life’
I was interested in seeing the world, traveling, the sciences and the environment. Put that together and you have oil and gas exploration.
‘As a female with a degree there weren’t the jobs I was looking for out there’
At that time, women in the UK weren’t allowed to go offshore so I had to get that kind of experience in Holland where those rules didn’t apply.
‘The first time I went offshore was a bit of a shock for everyone…’
Including me! There weren’t any women’s sleeping quarters and the first night offshore I had to sleep on the couch in the medical centre. I was conscious that I was the only woman in that world but I was used to it – it was the men who had to get used to me!”
‘Society has a lot to answer for – with its pressures and expectations’
BP have been incredible and always treated me with the same equality as the men. I think the main issues don’t necessarily lie with individual companies but more with society as a whole.
‘I remember taking six weeks maternity leave and in those days it was unusual for women to come back’
So unusual in fact, that when I did return they wrote a two page article about me in the BP Exploration News!”
‘You have to do what you are most passionate about and follow your energy and motivation’
You’ve got to really want to do it and accept that there is no space for anything else. I can understand why people think it’s too hard. There were exhausting times. But I was on a mission. I wanted to prove to myself that I could be successful and show that women could achieve their potential and have families.
‘I believe the biggest reason that women give up is because they don’t see enough role models at senior level’
I hope I am a good role model to other women. I have proved you can do it but it’s been very hard work. The person who can end up getting neglected in all of this is you. But if you can get through those early years then it does get easier.
‘We should make the most of the opportunities that are given to us’
Things are getting better for women and there is much more awareness. I’m glad to see a much more diverse range of people working in my organisation. It’s a journey that improves year on year.”
Dr Angela Strank is the First Woman to become Vice President of Oils and Lubes at BP