Mines and Metals Association seeks to boost the number of women in resources industry

A national employers group is making a new push to increase the female participation rate in an industry dominated by men in big boots and high visibility safety gear: mining.

The Australian Mines and Metals Association hopes to see women's participation in mining, energy and related construction exceed 25 per cent by 2020.

The group is holding a series of workshops for employers around the country, with the first beginning in Brisbane today.

Association director Tara Diamond says there's a way to go.

"The current statistic is that 15.5 per cent of employees in the resource industry are females," she said.

"The Australian Women in Resources Alliance has a target out to 2020 which is to increase that rate to 25 per cent."

One of the biggest barriers is the industry's blokey image.

"The biggest challenge that we have and the barrier is trying to educate people on those preconceived notions," Ms Diamond said.

"There is something called unconscious bias that all of us as humans have. I think that may be a barrier that we're hoping and encouraging employers to educate their workforces on in terms of particularly recruitment practices.

"There are no jobs that are closed to women," she said.

Companies offering child care support to retain working mums

The Association says more women can be recruited and retained through incentives like baby bonuses and child care support, such as a Caltex Australia's program called BabyCare.

The company's diversity and inclusion manager Celina Cross says primary carers receive a three per cent bonus each quarter once they return to work.

"That stays in place up until their child's second birthday, and the intention of the payment is to offset those additional costs that employees have in that early stage for child care when a baby or child is under two," Ms Cross said.

The Caltex Australia program includes help finding child carers and emergency child care.

The company also provides facilities for nursing mothers at key sites.

"We've got facilities at our 2 Market Street office, our head office, and also at our Kurnell and Lytton refineries," Ms Cross said.

Celina Cross says the Caltex program has reversed a trend of women leaving once they had children.

"We didn't have a fantastic retention rate for women after they returned from parental leave," she said.

"We were losing some women, and the feedback they were giving us was that the cost of child care was so exorbitant that they didn't feel it was worthwhile almost to return to work.

"So the BabyCare bonus piece in particular, the quarterly payment, has really offset that issue. So we've now had a hundred per cent retention of women who have returned from maternity leave under this program.

"Interestingly we also have two men who have taken this up as primary carers," Ms Cross said.

The founder of the group Women in Mining, Sabina Shugg, says she is her iron ore mine in the Pilbara in the north of Western Australia is fairly representative in terms of the number of women employed.

"I'm only here as a consultant but this probably about 15 per cent or 20 per cent, and there's about 1,200 people here," said Ms Shugg, the head of mining at Momentum Partners.
comments powered by Disqus