Female participation in mining falls

The number of women working in the mining industry has fallen by 1.6 per cent of the total workforce in the year to May 2014.

This drop from 15.5 per cent to 13.9 per cent has prompted a call from the Australian Women in Resources Alliance (AWRA) to “diversity-savvy employers” to better their efforts to increase the number of women in traditionally male-dominated roles.

The focus for increasing female participation is on site-based roles such as professionally-based engineering and geophysics roles, and trade-based roles like welding and rigging.

Australian Mines and Metals Association executive director Tara Diamond said there are now 37,000 women working across Australia's mining, oil and gas sectors, which is about 3,400 less than 12 months ago.

“This decline shows that as the resource industry’s skills demands evolve, driven by many projects moving from construction into production, employers must focus on attracting and retaining women in their workforces,” she said.

“Specifically, the statistics show coal mining, metal ore extraction and quarrying activities have all gone backwards in terms of their gender balance over the past 12 months.

“While there are many successful efforts across the industry to attract and retain more women generally, achieving a gender balance in these site-based, male-dominated roles presents the greatest challenge.”

However, female participation has increased over the past 12 months in the oil and gas sector.

Since May 2013, an additional 1,800 women joined the sector, boosting its female participation to 23.5%.

Overall the total number of people employed in mining has increased on the May quarter in 2013, with 260,300 compared to 264,600 in May 2014.

The AMMA is the peak body facilitating the AWRA, which recently launched the AWRA Recognise program, which is the resource industry’s first official assessment of gender diversity capability within an organisation.

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