Though men dominate the manual-labor jobs on the rigs in the booming North Dakota oil fields, women are exercising entrepreneurial zeal in opening services ranging from oil well geology to occupational testing to child care and medical clinics, Bloomberg reported.
Local authorities and company executives say the women -- and the businesses they're creating -- are needed to sustain the economic boost.
"There are great opportunities for women," said Kathy Neset, 57, the president of Neset Consulting Service Inc. "Whatever skill you have, we need it in western North Dakota."
Neset started the company, which provides geological services to oil companies, in 1980 with her husband in Tioga, 580 miles northwest of Minneapolis and 95 miles from Watford City. It now employs 180 people.
She often gives presentations at elementary and middle schools in the upper Midwest, encouraging girls to pursue careers as geologists to land jobs paying $80,000 to $140,000 a year. More than a fifth of her employees are women, cutting rock samples and detecting natural gas and oil, she said.
Outreach like Neset's is part of a long-term effort to solve North Dakota's staffing challenges. The state's 3.3 percent unemployment rate in February is the lowest in the country and compares with 7.6 percent nationally in March. Read more.