By Warlou Joyce Antonio

An oil depot is perhaps one of the least expected of all workplaces where one can find a sizable population of female workers, but that is just the case at the North Mindanao Import Facility (NMIF) in Cagayan de Oro City.

The P3.8-billion oil import terminal was put up by Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. last year to cater to the growing power and energy needs of million of residents, motorists and other end-users and consumers in Visayas and Mindanao.

In the facility, women fill in vital roles where men would usually dominate. Out of the 700-strong workforce, NMIF employs a total of 59 female staff in various positions and diverse responsibilities. There are female safety officers, project and area supervisors, nurses, and engineers in the worksite.

Under CB&I, the tank erection contractor, there are seven female welders. There is also a comparatively good ratio of females under Riofil, the civil works contractor. Additionally, a female QA (quality assurance)–QC (quality control) supervisor works under AG&P, the mechanical and piping contractor.

"Shell supports diversity and inclusion in the workplace and I think this is why we have a good population of female employees here in NMIF,” explains Shell NMIF project engineer Jennifer So.

“It makes me proud to be in a company that strives to create a culture where differences are acknowledged, and where everyone is equally respected, regardless of gender. Where everyone is given the opportunity to fully contribute to the success of our operations,” she adds.

The NMIF truly offers an environment conducive for equal opportunities by blurring the lines between male and female work division. Each individual is acknowledged for the pivotal roles they play, and their individual contributions in the successful operations of the whole facility.

“Being part of a male-dominated environment is very overwhelming. The construction industry has always been a man’s world. But nowadays, women enter the man’s world with an opportunity to work and to contribute to the environment where men have always been the greatest contributor,” said Angelica Reyes, CB&I safety officer.

While a male-dominated workplace usually leaves a small margin of error for females, the latter are set to prove that, in their own words, what men can do, women can also do with the same—if not better—quality.

“It’s a new world and a totally different generation now,” said Jennifer So, Shell NMIF project engineer. “In fact, worldwide, there is already an ample number of women in our kind of workplace. I really believe it provides a sufficient balance, bringing together the distinct qualities of men and women.” Insights from the women in NMIF show that they take pride in being women in a male-dominated workplace. From their perspective, in a setting characterized by a prevalence of males, it is notable to witness women doing equal tasks and receiving equal respect.

Expressing her sentiments, CB&I tank welder Erica Dimaculangan said: “I feel happy that we are respected by the men at work despite the gender difference, and that they are as supportive of us as they are of our male counterparts.”

Added fellow welder Evelyn Sanchez: “Every day when I go to work, I feel that what I’m doing is normal and it is just like any everyday job.”

Truly, the women workers of NMIF are breaking boundaries in their own ways—showing that diversity and inclusion are imperative, and proving that work, even in traditional strongholds of male dominance such as construction, knows no gender these days.