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Women in Mining – Opportunities for Women


The Australian Mining Industry is currently facing a critical skills shortage and the level of growth in jobs is set to continue. Currently only 18% of jobs in the mining industry are filled by women. Increasing the participation of women in the sector is seen as a key strategy to address the current skills shortage. Many companies are looking to improve their recruitment and retention of women as they recognise the significant opportunities to increase business productivity through increasing women’s participation in the sector.

Increased Opportunity for Women

Employment in mining is often characterized by its remote working environments, hard physical labour and long work shifts. In the past, this has contributed to discouraging women from working on the mines, especially if they have children to take care of. Many Mining companies are working hard to redress these and other issues preventing women’s participation. New opportunities for women are being created through:
  • Flexible work packages
  • Parent-friendly work rosters
  • Female-appropriate uniforms
  • Onsite childcare
  • Comfortable working conditions
  • Excellent pay rates
  • Gender-inclusive work environments
  • Extended maternity leave
  • Breast-feeding facilities
  • Couples on-site housing

Challenges

Despite these new opportunities, it’s important for women to be aware of the challenges they and men may still face working on the mines. Living away from home and loved ones can put pressure on relationships. Long hours and shift work can take its toll, especially on working mothers who must return home to the proverbial ‘second shift’. But if you can master the balance between family demands and mine-based workload, the income advantages and flexible work packages may allow a better lifestyle overall.

Best Mining Jobs for Women

Mining jobs are not all about hard-hats and underground labour. Although many women now work in traditionally male roles, such as drilling and truck driving, employment opportunities are abundant in all fields. It helps if you have previous experience and qualifications, but women can find mining jobs in both skilled and unskilled positions.

Skilled Mining Jobs for Women

As the mining industry continues to grow, Australian companies are crying out for qualified people and women can help meet the skills shortage. Qualifications in the following areas will get you a foot in the door, even if you have no previous experience in mining.
  • Scientific Roles: Women with scientific university degrees are in high demand. Mining jobs are available for women qualified in geology, geo-science, surveying, engineering, chemical engineering, social science, environment management and mechanical engineering, to name a few.
  • Business Roles: Naturally, mining is “big business”. This opens the door for women with a business degree, especially in management, accounting, project management, human resources and occupational health and safety.
  • IT Roles: As the mining industry evolves, so must its supporting information technology (IT) and software. Women can find work in IT areas including database management, systems engineering, helpdesk, systems support and software programming.
  • Trade-based Roles: Electricians, boilermakers, carpenters and welders are all in demand. There are just as many opportunities for women “tradies” as men.
  • Hard-Hat Roles: It’s is becoming more common to see women in hard-hat roles as drillers, truck drivers, dump truck operators or mobile plant operators (i.e. driving front-end loaders, bulldozers, excavators, backhoes, graders, scrapers, and forklift trucks). Although you don’t need tertiary qualifications, you will need appropriate Training and Development.
  • Other Qualified Roles: Think outside the box. There are plenty of jobs in mining that require people who are qualified in non-mining fields. Good examples include qualified support staff who work on-site, including fitness instructors and personal trainers, chefs, psychologists and medical staff.

Unskilled Mining Jobs for Women

Even if you are unqualified, you can still get a job in the mines. In most cases, you will be asked to complete pre-employment training, which usually includes a mine-specific safety induction and first-aid course. Women without professional mine-specific qualifications have found success in the following areas.
  • Office Administration
  • Catering (e.g. kitchen assistants, counter-hands)
  • Cleaning
  • Field work (data gathering)
  • Data entry

Women who begin their mining careers in entry-level positions may find opportunities to move into other roles. For example, an office administrator could transition to a job as a haul pack operator.

Related Resources for Women in Mining Jobs


Visit our Mining Lifestyle Guide section for more articles about employment in the mining sector.
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