Anne Grau has been involved in geology for three decades – working for energy leaders such as EOG Resources and Total Energies – and definitely knows what it’s like to be the only woman in the room.
“Being a woman in the oil and gas industry often meant I was one woman in 200 at certain conventions,” she said, adding she also was sometimes the only woman in meetings and occasionally called “sunshine” or “dear.”
“Overall, I would attribute my staying power in the industry for a 30-year career to, first and foremost, a profound love and dedication for my primary field of study, geoscience. Secondly, having a sense of humor helps a lot, not taking things personally, and knowing when to move on.”
Now, as an applied assistant professor of practice in The University of Tulsa’s Collins College of Business, Grau is shaping the next generation of women in the energy field. She said female students tell her all the time that they are excited to have a “legit” female faculty member from the industry.
“While it may be passive, showing up as an applied professor in the energy space shows women students that you can make a full lifelong career in energy, have a family, hobbies, and contribute,” Grau said. “Meaningful and challenging work is important for woman just as it is for men. Energy provides so many opportunities to do this, ranging from developing renewable technologies, evaluating sustainability, or exploring for natural resources.”
Grau said she fell into love with geology when she took her last science class for her bachelor’s degree at Baylor University. From there, she could not get enough geology, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Baylor and a doctorate from Colorado School of Mines.
“While I was always drawn to academia, opportunities in the oil and gas industry were not only abundant but also on the cutting edge of technology, offering exciting careers in petroleum geoscience. Before I could blink an eye, I had been in petroleum geology and the industry for over 30 years,” she said.
She acknowledges there have been barriers along the way.
“Finding employers who would allow me to push my limits and move up in organizations was key, and I did switch employers at key points to be able to have opportunities elsewhere that were not going to happen for me at current positions,” she said. “This was sometimes painful but was an essential part of my journey, to learn when it was time to advocate for yourself and make changes.”
At TU, Grau is excited to learn from a strong female leader in Kathy Taylor, dean of the college and Grau’s first female boss ever.
“I wish I had someone like her as a mentor in the industry, but there just weren’t many senior women in the industry when I came in,” Grau said. “Watching a pro like Dean Taylor handle all manner of situations, always being ready to speak publicly, and constantly planning for the future inspires me.”
Grau hopes to extend her visiting professorship into a longer-term stay at TU.
“I have only been here for 10 months, but TU already feels like home,” Grau said. “I could not ask for better colleagues or students. Professor Buford Pollett has been so welcoming and inclusive. Watching him come up with ideas about the energy space ensures that the undergraduate energy management program and master’s in energy program will continue to have fresh, relevant perspectives in the ever-changing landscape of the energy transition.
“I am equally impressed by our TU students and can’t wait to see what their impact will be on the world during their careers.”