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Panola College in Carthage hosts event to funnel more women into energy jobs

More than 200 female high school students will gather at Panola College in Carthage, Texas, Wednesday to find out what it’s like for women to work in the energy sector. 

The college’s third annual Women in Energy Event will feature keynote speaker Katie Mehnert. She’s founder of Pink Petro, a Houston-based global social network for women working in the energy industry that consults with companies around the world to help diversify the workforce.

Natalie Oswalt, dean of Panola’s professional and technical programs, says this program will also bring in women who work for energy firms to meet with the students.

“We wanted to bring junior and senior female high school students together, face-to-face with women who are successful in the energy program, just to open their minds to the opportunities that are available for them and let them think outside-the-box a little on nontraditional occupations,” Oswalt said.

Oswalt says she’s starting to see more women enter the Panola’s two-year program in petroleum technology. She says women graduates have landed jobs in the field just like their male counterparts.

“We wanted to be able to recruit women in the field because the companies do want them as well. Al the female we’ve had come through have been very successful,” Oswalt said.

Panola’s Women in Energy event is set for Wednesday, April 27, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Oswalt says she polled last year’s attendees and found 41 percent of the female high school students didn’t know about careers in petroleum technology and welding, but after the event, they said they would now consider pursuing those career paths.