Global Women Forum - Introducing Ana María Núñez Antón

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Global Women Forum - Introducing Ana María Núñez Antón

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Ana María Núñez Antón (© EITEP)
Ana María Núñez Antón (© EITEP)

Meet Ana María Núñez Antón, a trailblazing Chemical Engineer at Shell, originally from Spain. With a diverse background spanning Qatar, the US, and Europe, Ana currently resides in the Netherlands. In her role as EU Chemicals Pipeline Manager at Shell, she oversees all pipeline-related activities within Shell Chemicals Europe, fostering collaboration with stakeholders across borders. Ana's passion for cultural diversity and her commitment to empowering women in the pipeline industry make her a captivating figure to kick off our interview series. As our first interviewed guest, Ana was also a distinguished speaker at the Global Women in Pipeline event in Berlin, underscoring her leadership and expertise in the field. 

Let's delve into her remarkable journey, insights, and experiences.


1. What inspired you to pursue a career in the energy sector, particularly in the field of pipeline technology, and how has your journey been as a woman in this male-dominated industry?

At school I was always good at science subjects. I really liked Maths and Physics. Therefore, when I had to choose what to study in the University, I thought that Chemical Engineering would be a good mix of my favorite subjects. My decision was not informed enough and I didn’t know whom to ask. 

Engineering is one of those professions that does not seem to be attractive enough for women.  However Chemical Engineering has a higher rate of female students compared to other Engineering degrees. I only realized that during my first day at university. 

I guess at that age you really don’t know what implies studying an engineering career and don’t know well either in which sectors you could end up working. I was also not aware of how male-dominated the industry was. 

I strongly believe we should be more informed when making such a huge decision with enormous impact in our lives. Perhaps nowadays it is better than 20 years ago when I had to decide myself.  

I have always worked for companies that are making great efforts to improve their gender diversity. I believe that women can still find success in industries where women are a minority. However, it takes extra effort and that is what we all need to help change. Why is that extra effort needed for us? This should be food for thought for all.

2. As someone who has worked across various regions such as Qatar, the US, and Europe, what differences have you observed in the treatment and opportunities for women in the energy business? 

Offensive comments to women still happen a lot in workplaces around the world and we all play a role to have an active role against it to intervene.

I think there are a lot of stereotypes to fight about women in Middle East because of misrepresentation in the media. I’m very grateful that thanks to my experience in Qatar I increased my knowledge and understanding about the Arab culture and beliefs. Most of the women engineers I met in Qatar they have the same ambition that I do to fulfill her professional lives. However, there is much more pressure on them to satisfy the expectations of becoming a mum and a wife.

When I was working in Gabon (Africa), I was asked many times by my male colleagues why I wasn’t married yet with 30 years old. One of my female colleagues with British background decided to wear a ring to avoid those kind questions. I found that a bit sad, but the truth is that their intention was not disrespectful. These are just cultural differences. In the Netherlands I have never been asked something like that, even with 40 years old.

3. In your role as the EU Chemicals Pipeline Manager at Shell, what strategies have you implemented to foster diversity and inclusion within your team and among stakeholders? Can you share any specific initiatives that have been particularly effective?

I always try to open the meeting being inclusive and acknowledge everyone’s presence. Those small things can make a big difference. I also listen to everyone and invite the most introverted ones to speak up. 

I help new joiners in the company to meet colleagues with same background or common interests.

4. As the master of ceremony at the Global Women in Pipeline event in Berlin, what were some key insights or experiences shared by women in the energy business, and how do you believe such platforms contribute to promoting diversity and empowering women in the field?

My main takeaway was that the challenges that women face in the pipeline industry are not different from any other male dominated business. We all need do our part to collectively shape the future we want for our young generation. 

There are many ways for managers to drive gender equity in the workplace: 

  • Make Diverse Hiring a Priority.
  • Ensure Workplace Flexibility.
  • Ensure Workplace Wellbeing.
  • Ensure Fair Promotion Procedures.
  • Provide Development Opportunities.

5. Pipeline technology is often associated with traditionally male-dominated roles. How do you see the role of women evolving in this sector, particularly in leadership positions, and what steps can be taken to encourage more women to pursue careers in pipeline technology and energy?

This year during the pipeline technology conference we invited young female students from different technical universities to give them the opportunity to ask us questions about our day-to-day jobs and challenges in our careers. I really believe that these kind of initiatives can help spark their interest in the pipeline business and make better informed decisions. 

6. What advice would you give to other women aspiring to excel in the energy business, especially in roles involving pipeline technology and management?

Don’t be shy, say No if someone is trying to take advantage of you, and look for sponsorship for your development.

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