Omani woman pushed boundaries to carve out her niche
March 7, 2017 | 10:52 PM
by Alya Al Harthy [email protected]

Muscat: “There were no women studying in my field at the time of my education. In Oman, we only had a minority of female geologists, and the same could be said in the United States.

“This was not a Middle Eastern issue, or an Omani issue. It was a global issue,” recalls Intisaar Al Kindy.

Al Kindy has served as PDO’s Exploration Director since 2011, and is one of a handful of female executives working in Oman’s engineering field.

Al Kindy received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Tulsa, and completed her postgraduate studies in Petroleum Geology in England, before returning to Oman in the early 1990s.

Back in Oman, she was immediately struck by the small number of females in the field, both in geosciences and other engineering fields, such as mechanical and drilling engineers.

“I was somewhat a loner. As a woman, you rarely had a ‘buddy’ to share experiences with. When you go to meetings or meet colleagues, you attract immediate attention as a woman. I had to develop a thick skin. It wasn’t wired in my DNA to become an engineer or a geoscientist, but I had to adjust to this environment,” she explained.

“In my day, if you went into the field, there weren’t even toilets for females.

“When I landed in Fahud or Marmul, the airports were not set up for women. I would be the only one there, and if I needed to go to the toilet, it was embarrassing because someone had to stop, and watch the door for me,” Al Kindy recalled.

Today, female engineers can pursue their careers in an inclusive environment, Al Kindy noted. “The current generation is blessed to come into an industry which is welcoming to female engineers. The facilities are there for them. The system caters for them. Everything strives for a balanced gender environment, and we have equal opportunities,” she said.

However, Al Kindy recognizes that there are still gender barriers today regarding daughters working as engineers.

“Until this day, there are still many females who will not be able to go to the field, not because of their own choice, but because their families will not allow them. It’s not that they don’t want them to do these things due to gender discrimination, it’s because of a lack of awareness,” she explained.

“Most of the families think that going into the field is unsafe, or not secure, or very male dominated.

“Families do not understand that being in the field is exactly like being in Muscat.

“The females have their own camp, it is secure, and their facilities are geared towards women,” she added.

Al Kindy also explained that women need to let go of their preconceived notions regarding leadership in this industry.

“I hear things from the younger generation, like ‘I can’t strike a work-life balance if I’m to become a leader’, and that’s not true. It’s all about the choices you make, and the responsibility you have towards them. Yes, I don’t have all the time in the world. But I’m a better mum today because of where I am, because I can provide better for my children. I’m a better daughter because I’m a leader. I am at my best because I’m a leader,” she said.

Al Kindy also encouraged women to follow their desires, no matter the hurdles.

“It took a while to bring about a culture of inclusiveness, but the reason why we made it this far is because people like myself spoke up, and said, ‘If you want me to go to the field, you need to provide me an inclusive environment’. It’s all about women speaking their minds to say what works for them. It’s about organizing, and taking on the responsibility to create that environment for ourselves,” she added.

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