Senior Partnerships Adviser
It’s a long way to the top for women who want to work in the rock and oil businesses.
Although Australia’s most famous mining CEO is Gina Rinehart, across the industry women are more likely to be working in clerical or administrative roles than running the joint.
Only 2.6% of chief executive officers and 12.3% of key management personnel in the mining industry are women.
Indeed, Mining is the most male-dominated industry in Australia. According to our 2014-15 reporting data, just 16% of employees across the industry are women.
The traditionally masculine roles have remained that way, with women making up just 10% of machinery operators and drivers, 4.9% of technicians and trades and only 7.1% of labourers.
The tables turn when it comes to clerical positions, with women making up 77.4% of administration workers.
In the sector with the most employees, Metal Ore Mining, women make up just 16.6% of the total workforce but 74.9% of clerical and administrative roles.
Although the average total remuneration for women is higher in Mining than in any other Australian industry, gender pay gaps in favour of men remain - although they vary by occupation and management level.
The concentration of women in lower paying occupations in mining contributes to an industry-wide gender pay gap of 17.6% in favour of men, based on total remuneration.
Pay gaps tend to be lowest for machinery operators and drivers – 2% in Coal Mining and 6.7% industry-wide.
The pay gap is greater for women in professional or technician roles. Professional women working in the Coal Mining sector face a 23.7% pay gap, while those working as a technician or tradie face a 13.3% pay gap.
Even women who have successfully climbed the corporate ladder to higher levels will face the same problem, with female key management personnel across the mining industry earning 16.6% less than their male counterparts.
The good news is the mining industry has been working hard to turn things around.
Last year 60.9% of Mining organisations had an overall gender equality policy, up from 53.1% the year before.
And while a gender pay gap of 17.6% across the entire Mining industry is significant, it’s smaller than the gender pay gap across all Australian industries, which is 24%.
Several leading employers have also taken specific steps to improve the representation of women in their workplace.
Last year, Caltex Australia was listed as an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality. Their innovative BabyCare program has seen a 25% increase in the number of women successfully returning to work after parental leave.
The program includes helping new parents find childcare and a 3% quarterly bonus for the returning employee to help cover costs.
Shell Australia is another 2015 Employer of Choice for Gender Equality. Over the last two years they have funded a research project, Filling the Pool, to understand why women were not reaching senior corporate positions in Western Australia.
There are some areas where the Mining industry is leading the charge on gender equality. Women in Mining can expect a better paid parental leave scheme than employees in other sectors.
Agency data shows that employees in the mining industry benefit from 11.9 weeks of paid primary carers leave on average compared with 8.6 weeks in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry.
An area for improvement in the Mining industry is implementing strategies to support flexible working arrangements, which benefit both male and female employees seeking to balance work with caring commitments. Just 10.1% of mining employers have a flexible working arrangements strategy in place.
And although Mining employers are better than most at analysing their gender pay gap, of the 40% who did so, half also reported taking action to address the gaps.
Gender equality in Mining has already come a long way. After all, it wasn’t until the 1980s that women were finally allowed to work underground in mines.
But the data shows that the task of improving gender equality in the mining industry has only just begun.
Visit the WGEA Data Explorer for more insight into the Mining industry.
2015 Employers of Choice for Gender Equality in Construction, Mining, Manufacturing and Gas Services
- Alcoa of Australia Ltd
- Caltex Australia
- Merck Sharpe and Dohme (Australia) Pty Ltd
- Mirvac Projects Pty Ltd
- Phillip Morris Ltd
- Origin Energy Ltd
- Shell Australia
- St Barbara Ltd