First published by ABC Goldfields

By Rebecca Brewin

As more companies move from the construction phase into operations and production, the number of women employed in the resources sector is on the decline, according to the Australian Mines and Metals Association.


Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) is a resource industry employment and workforce advocacy group.

AMMA executive director Tara Diamond told Kirstyn March on ABC Goldfields women in mining numbers had been up recently.

“We’ve made huge grounds in the last five years, in the last five years we’ve grown up to two percentage points every year.

“But with the changes in the industry and the positioning moving away from construction through to operations and production, we’ve seen the numbers slightly decrease.

“Nationally, there are 37,000 women working in the resources industry and that represents just under 14 per cent of the entire workforce.”

Of those 37,000 women, the majority are in support roles rather than executive or management roles.

As industries change the structure of their workforces, the number of female employees often decline, Ms Diamond said.

“In oil and gas, given that that industry is still going into its large scale production and ramp up phase we’ve seen their numbers increase.

“So it’s sector specific, it’s not a trend across the industry.”

Part of the problem, Ms Diamond said, is there isn’t a “pipeline” of females in technical, site based or trade roles to feed into leadership roles.

“Australia does a fantastic job of educating young females, Australia ranks number one in the world for secondary and tertiary education.

“So what we need to do is get to those young females and their parents to talk to them about considering and what the opportunities available to them are for a career in the resources industry.

“That’s the stage where we need to make an impact.

“Employers are doing a huge amount of work around attracting females and changing a lot of their culture and processes around retaining females, but we have to have that pipeline through education, ready for employers.”

Ms Diamond said it was important for any workforce to be made up of diverse employees that are representative of the national demographic.

“It’s important to have equal representation across any kind of organisation or industry.

“And when I say equal it doesn’t mean we’ll always have the same number of males and females doing a particular role.

“But having a really good mix from gender and cultural perspectives has found, anecdotally and through research, to result in organisations that perform better.”