Why women’s jobs in mining are increasing in previously male-only areas
In a recent report from Bloomberg, the subject of women’s jobs in mining was revisited and both men and women interviewed, to try to shed some light on where women are now situated in this 1 trillion dollar industry and what the future holds for them.
When asked what she thought might be the main barrier to women moving into mining, Laura Tyler, asset president for BHP`s Cannington mine (the world`s largest lead and silver operation), said she thought it may be their perception of the industry.
“My father was particularly horrified when I told him I was going into mining, and I grew up on the edge of the Lancashire coalfields in England”¯, said Tyler, who hires the same number of male and female graduates at the mine and began a mentorship program to accelerate women into leadership.
And with companies looking for ways to cut spending, mining crews with more female staff at BHP have lower maintenance costs, according to the company`s Tyler, its first female asset president. Diversity also breeds better team work, she said.
The e-mail Jacqui McGill received from one of her teams at a coal mine in Queensland`s Bowen Basin, contained great news: output delays were down 75% in a year.
McGill, asset president for two of the world`s biggest mining company`s operations said: “Every single person on the e-mail was a woman in a production role.
“That`s the first time that`s happened in my career,”¯ McGill, an industry veteran of more than 20 years, said of the e-mail.
Rio Tinto wants 20% of women in senior roles by 2015
Mining remains the most male-dominated business, with men holding more than 90 percent of executive positions. That`s starting to change, as retiring employees help open the $1 trillion industry`s door to female successors.
Mining companies around the world are now implementing initiatives aimed at guiding women into senior roles.
In the global mining industry overall, women hold only 8 percent of executive committee positions reporting directly to the chief executive officer, according to a study by the gender-consulting company 20-first.
By comparison, the best-performing $2.9 trillion pharmaceutical industry`s figure is 18 per cent.
An aging workforce across the mining sector means producers worldwide face a lack of sufficient candidates for management positions and should seek a more diverse range of employees, including more women, according to Ernst & Young.
Debbie Butler, a talent manager at Anglo American, responsible for coal operations in Canada and Australia, told a Melbourne conference recently: “Our industry needs to focus on bringing new people into mining and this means looking beyond the traditional demographics.”¯
Gina Rinehart backs young Australian women
Seeking to promote mining to young women, Gina Rinehart, Australia`s wealthiest woman and chairman of the Australian mining company Hancock Prospecting, this month encouraged students at the private girls` school in Perth where she once studied, to take up work placements at her Roy Hill iron ore mine.
A large percentage of women in mining is evident right across the Australian mining industry. Women are turning to the industry because it offers flexible working conditions, career opportunities and a chance to work in a diverse industry. Gender equality is something mining companies in Australia are striving to create.
Having a balance in the workforce has many, many benefits for employers and employees alike.
Appointing more women to key positions may boost companies` incomes
“There`s a significant correlation between bottom line profit and how well a company does, and having more women and diversity in your senior roles,”¯ said Clare Beckton, executive director at Carleton University`s Center for Women in Politics and Public Leadership.
At iMINCO, we receive a lot of mail from women who are searching for answers as to how they can enter the mining industry, even if they have no previous experience.
“many women are enjoying rewarding careers”
There are many pathways into women’s jobs in mining, and they’re not limited to the traditional outdated male view of housekeeping and food preparation. Women are enjoying rewarding careers as WHS representatives, trainers, heavy machinery operators as well as engineers, geologists, mine managers and, as can be seen from the recent reports above, many are now high-level executives.
It’s not uncommon, however for women to enter the mining industry at an entry-level position. In fact, iMINCO has written a special guide to help new starters understand the industry and get some idea of where to begin searching for jobs, how to apply and what to expect from a mining career.
Once firmly established in a mining job, women can quickly progress to other roles such as a haul truck operator.
“a well-paid career as a haul truck driver”
You might be surprised to learn one of the women’s success stories of the mining industry has been that of Lisa Mirtsopoulos who has created a well-paid career as a haul truck operator. iMINCO recently interviewed Lisa about how she came to write the complete guide to getting a well-paid job as a dump truck operator.
Not content with just driving massive haul trucks on a mine site, Lisa told iMINCO she is now doing consulting work with the mining company she works for in Western Australia, to help them improve the efficiency of their haul truck operations. How cool is that?
Leading on from Lisa’s success, and there are many more like her, is a new story iMINCO discovered about a very talented woman who got a job operating one of the biggest pieces of mining equipment you will find on a mine site.
Trainee Dragline Operator
Meet Marianne Finch . . .
Marianne started her mining career way back in 2005 as, wait for it, a haul truck operator working for BMA at their Peak Downs mine in Queensland’s coal mining hotspot, the Bowen Basin.
Having been in the mining industry for almost 10 years, Marianne knows a thing or two about mining.
The first nugget of wisdom she relays is: “Don`t take no for an answer”.
Marianne had the guts and determination to succeed, no matter what challenges she faced in a male-dominated mining industry.
Before too long, being the persistent type, she was given the chance to learn how to operate a dozer, which as we all know is more a man’s mining toy.
“always on the lookout for a career opportunity”
Once she had mastered operating the dozer, Marianne moved on to another piece of vital mining machinery, the digger. Always on the look out for a career opportunity, she made a move to the BMA operated Saraji Mine in 2012 where the opportunity to commence a Dragline Traineeship presented itself.
Marianne says she may just have her ‘L plates’ on at the moment, but being at the controls of Dragline 13 feels great.
Not content with this, she also holds the prestigious title of being the first female Dragline Trainee at the mine. She went on to say, being a Dragline Operator was simply the best job on the mine site.
“the first female Dragline Trainee”
“The role is challenging and pushes you out of your comfort zone every day,”¯ she said.
“When accepting this opportunity I did question whether I had done the right thing. However through the support of my team and friendships on site, I was able to push through those thoughts and I`m now confident I`ve made the right decision, and I`ve enjoyed the challenge every day since,” she said.
Marianne said she believes the key to succeeding in both the role, and the mining industry, is through developing trust within your crew and working hard.
Having the right attitude to build a strong career for herself was duly noted by Marianne`s Crew Supervisor, Rob Jacobsen.
“not afraid to try anything new”
>He went on to say, “She [Marianne] is a keen learner and not afraid to try anything new”.
Marianne’s Dragline Trainer and Assessor, Lyndon Bayles, said: “With more practical training, it won`t be long until we pass Marianne out as a “smooth operator” here at the Saraji mine ““ a title every Dragline Operator strives to achieve,” he said.
Advice to women looking for a career in mining
Marianne has some wise words of advice for women who are thinking of working in the mining industry in Australia.
She said, “Continue to push the norm and don`t take second prize, but above all, be sure you want the role, be sure you will stick at it . . . and when given the opportunity ““ don`t quit”.
“Persist at it and prove to those higher than you, why you not only deserve that role, but also any future opportunities that may come along”, she said.
“strength and courage”
Wise words indeed from Marianne whose tenacity, strength and courage is testament to the fact anything is possible when you put your mind to it and stick at it. Don’t let others put you off achieving what you desire and you know you have the ability to accomplish.
For women looking for a career in the mining industry, one of the first steps is to learn about the mining sector.
iMINCO has a weekly news email called Project News, that is packed with the latest mining news, careers advice, job tips and practical things you can do to increase your mining job chances.