Women are missing out on the benefits of the resources boom, Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) Director, Helen Conway said today.
"At 16 per cent, the number of female employees in the mining industry is well below what we see reported by other industries, and female managers are similarly under-represented in mining," Ms Conway said.
"The sector is crying out for workers, with some saying the industry will not survive without diversifying the employee base. Companies should be using their best endeavours to secure women for engineering and technical roles, and Australia needs to increase the number of women pursuing these sorts of studies by educating girls about the full range of occupational opportunities available to them.
"Importantly too, the resources boom has failed to narrow the gender pay gap, with women in mining taking home approximately $620 less on average per week than their male colleagues. They are earning on average about 74 per cent of their male counterparts."
One miner determined to quarry the female talent pool is Rio Tinto Iron Ore.
"Rio Tinto operates in a labour market where attraction and retention of employees is critical to success," said Acting Vice President, Organisation and Resources, Kevin Lewis.
The iron ore giant establishes talent pools for women in middle management, examines roles where females are underrepresented to identify barriers to advancement, and offers additional career development support for women.
"Rio achieved its target of 20 per cent women in senior and executive leadership roles in 2011 - four years ahead of schedule," Mr Lewis said.
"To maintain and improve on this achievement, we have site/department specific diversity goals for women to facilitate a pipeline into senior roles.
"We believe that a diverse leadership team will bring assorted and innovative perspectives to our organisation — giving us the edge over our competitors," Mr Lewis said.
Gold miner, St Barbara Limited, is another company that firmly believes in the business advantages of a diverse workforce and is taking a proactive approach to attracting and retaining women.
"Our formal flexible working guideline has improved both retention rates and job satisfaction," said General Manager Human Resources, Katie-Jeyn Romeyn.
"Women make up 45.6 per cent of the total labour force, yet only about 16 per cent of mining industry employees are women," Ms Conway said.
"The leading companies in this sector will be those that can fill increasing job vacancies by attracting and securing Australia's significantly untapped resource — our women."