Women in mining benefit from mentoring program

A program aimed at encouraging women to forge a career in the resources sector is set to continue in Queensland, with the government announcing a new round of funding.

The 2015 Queensland Resources Council (QRC)/Women in Mining and Resources Queensland (WIMARQ) Mentoring Program is part of the Newman Government’s strategy to attract and retain women in male-dominated workforces.

The $300,000 three-year program has seen 20 women complete a six month mentoring program, where they were matched with CEOs and senior executive from resources companies

Next year’s program will see the number of participants increase to 40.

Assistant Minister for Technical and Further Education Saxon Rice said the key to retaining women already working in the resource industry was to establish support channels.

"The government thanks all those mentors who gave up their time to assist women in their career goals," Rice said.

QRC’s chief executive Michael Roche said more mentoring was needed if the mining industry wanted to attract and retain female talent.

“The QRC has a goal of 20 per cent in non-traditional roles by 2020, and this program will help us reach our target,” Roche said.

“The proportion of women in these roles has risen from 6 per cent in 2006 to 13.5 per cent, which puts us on track, but we still have some way to go.”

A recent study showed female participation in the mining industry had 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 led to calls from the Australian Women in Resources Alliance (AWRA) to “diversity-savvy employers” to better their efforts to increase the number of women in the sector.

“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.” Australian Mines and Metals Association executive director Tara Diamond said.

“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.”

 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.

Bucking the trend, the oil and gas sector increased the number of its female workforce, adding an additional 1,800 women since May 2013.

Image: www.qrc.org.au

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