International Women’s Day is an important day to reflect on the work the minerals sector has done in attracting women to its workforce, as well as the work that still needs to be done.

The minerals industry has long recognised that women are an untapped source of skills and labour; and that increased workforce diversity can improve productivity.

There has been progress in terms of attracting women to the mining sector:

  • The female labour force grew 82% between December 2009 and 2012, while the male labour force grew 56%;
  • The majority of mining companies have implemented diversity policies that recognise the carer responsibilities of many women; and
  • 61.8% of mining companies offer paid maternity leave with the average length at 12.1 weeks, against a national benchmark of 51.7% and 9.7 weeks respectively.

However, there is a recognition that the sector needs to respond to longer-term reasons that constrain female participation including the lack of women with maths and science competencies, and perceptions of ‘maleness’ of the industry.

To this end the MCA is taking a leadership role in a number of areas:

  • active involvement in the Australian Women in Resources Alliance (AWRA), an Australian Government- backed initiative implementing strategies to increase the proportion of women in the resources sector;
  • support for University of Queensland ARC Women in Mining Linkage Project (Longitudinal Study);
  • sponsorship of 3 scholarships for women in mining to complete the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ Course;
  • work with AusAID to address the gendered impacts of agreement making;
  • the Thiess/MCA Women in Engineering Scholarship; and
  • support for government efforts to increase the proportion of women with mathematics and science qualifications relevant for mining work

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