Women scant on WA boards

A new report shows WA is lacking in gender diversity with women only representing 4 per cent of board members.

New figures show that the number of women on publicly-listed boards in WA is worse than the national average ten years ago, the West Australian reported.

According to a report by Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency, WA is lagging behind the other states when it comes to women sitting on the boards of Australia’s top 200 companies.

Just four per cent of WA directors are women, compared with 15.3 per cent in Victoria, 14.8 per cent in NSW, and a national average of 12.3 per cent.

While WA is home to most of the country’s mining and resource companies, the figures show that it has a lower number of female executives compared to the finance, retail and insurance sectors.

EOWA director Helen Conway said companies had to do more to attract women into the industry.

"Companies have failed to develop and maintain a strong pipeline of female talent," she said.

While women are still under represented in the mining industry, making up only 22 per cent of the workforce in WA, a recent Women in Mining Panel Discussion at the Goldfields Mining Exhibition showed the opportunities that exist in the industry.

Julie Shuttleworth, general manager, of Barrick’s Granny Smith Mine, said that the right skills and attitude was needed for the industry.

“You do need the skills, you need some experience and you need a really great positive attitude,” she said.

“I’ve never found my gender to be a challenge in mining and I’ve never sat around and thought that being a woman in mining should be any different.”

Shuttleworth highlighted that great rosters, work life balance and opportunities to travel were just some of the reasons she loved working in the mining industry.

Earlier this year, Women on Boards launched professional development workshops for women in rural, regional, and remote Australia.

Dubbed "directors at a Distance – Realising your Board potential", the workshops helps women with strategies for board and career development and its provided via teleconference.

The group is seeking to increase the level of female representation on boards and committees in rural and regional areas.

Alison Morley, the chairwoman of WIMnet , an online initiative that aims to support women in the mining industry, and the CEO of Brumby Resources said there are great networking groups around the country which aim to support, train, and push for policy changes in favour of women in mining.

“These committees exist so women have a great network and are able to sell themselves into higher roles,” she told Australian Mining.

Make Me A Leader is one such program that has been developed to give women in the industry the skills and support they need to take on management roles.

Morley says that it’s programs like this and many others which will help change the culture of the industry and how it thinks about and treats women.

“It’s about giving women the opportunity to sell themselves more, to put themselves up for promotion. To skill up and go for it.”

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