DESK AND DERRICK CLUBS. The Desk and Derrick Club, the first organization for professional women in the oil and gas industry, was established in March 1949 by Inez Lord Awty of the Humble Oil and Refining Company in New Orleans, Louisiana. By 1951, four clubs had been established, including one in Houston which soon boasted 372 members. They united by signing articles of association and renamed themselves the Association of Desk and Derrick Clubs of North America (ADDC). Four years later the association included 101 clubs in the United States and four in Canada.

The state of Texas was divided into two regions (Region IV, East Texas, and Region V, West Texas), with every major city in Texas hosting a club. Total Texas membership had reached 2,038 in 1955. Through the years Texas has produced fourteen ADDC presidents. In 1969 a past president of the association, Irene Wischer (1954) from the San Antonio club, served as a member of President Richard Nixon's Citizens Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

The club's original purpose was to "promote among the women employed in the petroleum and allied industries through informative and educational programs, a clearer understanding of the industry which they serve." Each club held at least ten educational programs for its members. In March 1952 the association printed a club magazine called the Oil and Gal Journal. By 1957 the U.S. Patent Office granted the registration trademark of "Desk and Derrick," and the ADDC adopted the motto "Greater Knowledge–Greater Service."

In keeping with its educational goal, the association printed the Desk and Derrick Oil Abbreviator, a dictionary of commonly used terms in the oil industry and their shorthand connotations. The reference, which was conceived and compiled in 1967, was in its fifth edition and also available in a CD-ROM version in 2005. Other educational publications included Fundamentals of Petroleum, Land and Leasing, and Practical Petroleum Geology.

Each club held fundraisers for scholarships which were awarded to local students. In 1982 the association also established an educational trust for students seeking a degree in the field of petroleum and allied industries, and in 1987 the Association of Desk and Derrick Clubs Foundation was created to assist in developing industry-related educational projects. Male membership was allowed that same year.

In the late 1990s the association brought its educational efforts to grade schools with a videotape entitled PetroMolly and Her Magic Suitcase produced by the Bakersfield, California, Desk and Derrick Club. A Desk and Derrick member who dressed as the character in coveralls and hard hat and carried a suitcase with petrochemical products made presentations to Texas schoolchildren. In 2001 the association produced an activity book entitled Oil.

The association remains a viable organization in 2005. In that year the ADDC had sixty clubs, including sixteen in Texas, and the association president was from the Houston club. The Desk and Derrick Journal, formerly the Oil and Gal Journal, is published quarterly. Since 1956 ADDC has had its permanent distribution office in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Cecilia Gutierrez Venable

Association of Desk and Derrick Clubs Member Handbook (Tulsa: Association Distribution Office, 2005). Association of Desk and Derrick Clubs website (, accessed February 3, 2005.

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, "DESK AND DERRICK CLUBS," accessed January 17, 2020,

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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