Five tips for women wanting to succeed in mining

Laura Hayman certainly knows her way around a mine site (and an airport or two) having spent the last nine years FIFO on some of Australia’s largest underground and open pit mines.

A career in mining lured the Melbournian engineer to the bright lights of Perth.

The RMIT graduate holds degrees in both Applied Geology and Geological Engineering, and recently completed her Master of Engineering Science in Mining Geomechanics at the WA School of Mines.

With an increasing number of women working in the mining industry, Hayman shares her insights for other women interested in building a successful career in the mining industry:

1. Build your support network

The mining industry is very small so creating supportive alliances assists you not only in current role but preserving that network will support you well in to your future.

Having advice and counsel networks within your current workplace helps you to exercise sound judgement and maintain perspective.

It is wise to commit the extra time to attend external networking forums and to seek out similar women in your company to build a support structure for each other.

2. Early wins build credibility

Entering the workforce in mining as a female and being the minority of the mining workforce, I think women are more visible and are sometimes more easily targeted for criticism.

First impressions count, always do your best, and secure early wins to build your personal credibility. Organise goals with your manager in order to obtain these early wins.

3. Identify the workplace culture and adapt to it

Each workplace has a different set of ‘unwritten rules’ and the faster you can adapt the better off you will be.

Identify how the organisation really works in ways such as how results are achieved, how the company promotes and give recognition to employees, how conflict is resolved, how meetings are conducted, how to gain support for critical initiatives and who are the key players. 

4. Perseverance does bring rewards

The difficult mine site workplace experiences I’ve had have been worth persevering through to get me where I am today. It also helps to have a clear career objective and use your support network to help plan what you need to do to get there. Doing further study is extremely worthwhile.

Perseverance, hard work and beginning with the end in mind certainly in my experience do pay off.

5. Surviving FIFO

Having a well-balanced work/family lifestyle can be difficult but you need to be disciplined to maintain that balance, especially when there is a great determination to succeed in the workplace.

I think sexist attitudes can sometimes still be encountered on mine sites and a ‘boy’s club’ mentality can exist.

The widely used workplace code of behaviour didn’t exist when I started out as it does now, but I think the mine site workplace culture is slowly changing for the better.