Encouraging more women into mining

Mining Australia is urging more women to get into mining as a career.

Queensland Minister for Women Karen Struthers says women can provide fundamental fulfilment of gaps in the growing skills shortage problem plaguing the mining industry.

Currently only 18% of mining jobs are filled by women, however many employers have put great emphasis on making the industry more appealing and “female-friendly”, to entice more skilled workers into the sector.

Challenges

According to Nicole Hollows, former CEO of Macarthur Coal Limited and the first female chair of resource industry lobby group The Queensland Resources Council, women still face the challenge of underselling their skill-set.

Although she emphasises “getting the best person for the job”, she says women have a tendency to undersell their strengths.

Women have also been seen to be struggling from a “confidence gap” within male dominated sectors- where the self-belief they have in their skill-set is discrepant with their actual skills.

Women also face the challenges that men who enter into the industry do.  This includes demanding hours, time spent away from home and loved ones, and working from regional and rural areas which often require extensive commutes and interstate travel.

Opportunities

According to the AMMA Resource Industry Employer Group, companies are looking to recruit and retain more females in mining in a bid to enhance opportunities for business productivity through having more women participate in the sector.

This has been done by increasing opportunities for women including parent-friendly work rosters, female-appropriate uniforms, gender-inclusive work environments, extended maternity leave, breast-feeding facilities and couples on-site housing.

Opportunities exist across the mining sector, including both skilled and unskilled work.  This includes a call-out for more women qualified in science fields such as geology, geo-science, surveying, engineering, and environmental management.

Other opportunities include work in administration, business development, IT, trade based and hard hat roles.

Women in Hard Hats Program

The Queensland Government pioneered The Women in Hard Hats program – an initiative aimed to encourage more women into more ‘hard hat’ industries (mining and construction), as well as other traditionally male-dominated fields such as transport and logistics industries, science, engineering, technology and manufacturing.

The program saw more than 20 females retain employment in the mining sector, on remuneration packages worth $80,000+.

By developing programs such as this and integrating it into workforce planning, this will streamline the approach to getting more females into the mining sector, in cooperation and collaboration with state governments.

Considerations for workforce planning

Opportunities and the demand from companies to encourage more women into the mining sector should be taken into consideration when undertaking workforce planning for critical job roles and capabilities.

With diverse roles requiring highly valued skill-sets, the mining industry needs to ensure through targeted workforce development strategies, that they are not missing out on valuable talent by overlooking females in mining.

Attraction and recruitment, career and succession planning, coaching and mentoring, retention and skills development, are relevant workforce development strategies that can support more women moving into mining.

March 2015.

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