Mary Irwin de Mora

I was one of a handful of female Geology majors at my university. After graduating I was repeatedly told I should pursue teaching rather than go into geology as a career, since it was so male-dominated. I did not consider the petroleum industry as a viable career option until I attended the 1979 AAPG Annual Convention in Houston. It opened up a whole new world for me, the New Yorker. I secured a job that I wasn’t sure I could do but was willing to try. Within a year I had become the head of software support for the Bellaire GSI seismic processing center, as well as the single female in attendance at our monthly executive meetings.

From there, I found my footing in this multidimensional industry and have been involved in all aspects—from prospecting, to financing, to planning, to drilling, to producing and to selling oil and gas properties—and have loved every bit of it. I have worked both domestic and international projects with small local companies as well as with giant multinationals.

Being a female in the petroleum industry has presented many obstacles but, by keeping my humor and integrity intact, I have been able to work through them and enjoy a rewarding career. Additionally, I have been able to raise two children and mentor many others as they find their footing in life. I have always found great satisfaction in speaking to groups about my career path as a petroleum geologist and I believe in the magic of inspiring young, passionate minds. The petroleum industry has a bad reputation that turns many great minds away, but I would like to spread the word that it is a fascinating and satisfying career choice for men and women alike.

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