Industry News

Promoting Gender Diversity in the Mining Industry

Gender Diversity LackingGender diversity in the mining industry has historically been a tale of female under-representation, particularly in on-site occupations such as mine surveying.

The Australian Institute of Mine Surveyors (AIMS) in partnership with Glencore’s Mount Isa Mines announced a new diversity scholarship at the XVI International Mine Surveying Congress, held in Brisbane from 12 to 16 September 2016.

The Scholarship program has been named after AIMS respected member and fellow, Timothy Reginald Underhill, who held a senior mine surveying position at the Mount Isa Mines before his sad and unexpected passing in 2014.

Whilst AIMS already has several successful scholarship programs running in different states via various universities, this time we are very proud to be offering a unique scholarship that targets female students in an attempt to promote gender diversity in the industry.

Over the past several years, a number of research projects were conducted on this topic by organisations such as the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Mineral Council of Australia, AusIMM and so on. 

The main findings to come out of this research were:

  1. That the mining industry has been perceived to be a ‘man’s domain’ and the representation of women has remained low across all levels. 
  2. That there is a lack of female role models and mentoring available to women in the mining industry.
  3. That gender role based stereotypes and bias start at school—with girls more likely to consider educational pathways and careers in humanities or social sciences rather than engineering or technical fields.
  4. The research also revealed that strong stereotypes and assumptions exist regarding the sort of work women can do, have the skills to do, their performance potential and how strong their commitment is to their careers.
  5. Mining in Australia has a culture of long hours and many roles don’t offer flexibility and work-life balance. This is particularly true for roles where workers need to fly in to remote locations which precluded many women from participation in this area due to family commitments.  

To address these issues, the following recommendation has been made: That the mining industry, through its representative companies like Glencore and other professional bodies such as AIMS develop an integrated strategy offering a mechanism to attract, recruit, retain and develop women at all levels of the organisation within this sector. One important step towards this is to maintain closer links with TAFE and the university to encourage greater awareness of the practical applications of mine surveying related courses of study. 

The Timothy Underhill Diversity Scholarship Program is taking this step.

The scholarship amount from Glencore will be the total of thirty thousand dollars, or ten thousand dollars per year for 3 years.

The scholarship will be offered to female students who are Australian citizens that meet the minimum eligibility criteria for academic performance and wish to commence or continue their full time studies in Mine Surveying. The program will be rolled out at various universities across Australia.

Written by Julia Reynolds: julia.reynolds@minesurveyors.com.au