Recently, Australian Mining teamed up with Manufacturer’s Monthly and PACE to give out nine 2014 Women in Industry Awards to recognise the achievements of women who work in the industrial sector. The awards promote excellence, and are aimed at raising the profile of women within traditionally male-dominated industries. Though mining may be one of those conventionally male sectors, it’s now experiencing some radical changes and becoming increasingly gender neutral in various areas, from trade to entry-level and professional areas of work.
Cole Latimer, the editor of Cirrus Media’s industrial publications, emphasises the importance of the awards in articulating all of the contributions that are being made in order to change the face of the industry.
“Though female participation has risen across all industrial sectors in Australia, companies are still focusing on more innovative attraction and retention strategies to foster this growing talent and support young women working in the sector,” he says.
But what exactly are the opportunities for women in the mining industry? Here’s an overview of roles, and the future potential of women in mining industry.
The Current Situation
Today, only 18 per cent of jobs in the mining industry are occupied by women. Increasing the participation of women is, however, one of the key goals of the Australian Mining Industry – mainly due to the skills shortage experienced in the sector. In general, the characteristics of employment in mining, such as long shifts, hard labour and remote working environments, have discouraged women from exploring roles in the industry.
This might soon change, as a recent survey by the Office of Women Queensland, the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the Women in Mining Network, concluded that women could provide a solution to that increasing skills shortage.
Mining companies are currently addressing these issues and encouraging women’s participation in the industry by offering flexible work packages, on-site childcare, better pay rates, comfortable working conditions, extended maternity leave, breast-feeding facilities, as well as on-site housing for couples.
Opportunities for Women
Women can be found working in some traditionally male positions, such as truck driving or drilling, but there are many more opportunities offered by the mining industry. Women can find jobs in skilled mining positions even without previous experience in mining. Among those we find scientific positions (researchers within the fields of geology, engineering, surveying, chemical or mechanical engineering, social sciences or environment management) and business positions that range from accounting and project management to human resources and occupational health and safety.
But that’s not all! There are other positions available in the areas of IT, trade-based roles, hard-hat areas (dump truck driving, for instance, is considered well-suited for women) or other qualified jobs – from on-site fitness instructors to medical staff. There is also a need for workers to fill positions in cleaning, catering, office administration, fieldwork and data entry.
The Future of Women in the Mining Industry
On the whole, the future of women in mining looks bright, in both the unskilled and skilled sectors of the industry. Whether it’s working directly in the mining pit, driving road trains or preparing food, the mining industry is developing in a direction that aims to include female workers and increase productivity as a result.
Women interested in a career in mining have a wide range of support resources at their disposal, provided by organisations such as the Women in Mining Network.
Kelly Smith works at CourseFinder, an Australian online courses resource. She also provides career advice for students and job seekers.