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New Women in Mining Committee Chair’s mission for 2008

The Chair of the Women in Mining Networking Committee for 2008, Donna Frater, believes the current climate presents a unique opportunity to drive cultural change and open up opportunities for women to participate in mining. Having spent fifteen years in exploration and mining as a geologist, Ms Frater is well aware both of the benefits and pitfalls of being a woman in a non traditional role.

“I have genuinely benefited from the mining and resources industry and I have enjoyed the challenges that I have encountered, yet I still see an industry that doesn’t always behave in a way which demonstrates an appreciation of diversity,” said Ms Frater.

“This is apparent in the low participation rates. Women make up less than 7% of the technical workforce in mining, a figure that has remained relatively static in the last twenty years.”

Companies are keen to find ways to attract and retain more women, but there is no simple solution. As a critical mass of women who are technical professionals and have succeeded in the industry, the WIMNet presents a unique forum to assist industry in identifying and addressing the barriers.

WIMNet is a sub committee of The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (The AusIMM), the preeminent organization representing professionals in the minerals sector in the Australasian region.

“The gender pay gap that was identified in the recent AusIMM Remuneration Survey was a wake-up call that more needs to be done in the area of advocacy,” said Ms Frater. “According to the Survey, there is an escalating gender pay gap in the industry that ranges from 5% difference per hour for a young professional to 20% per hour for a senior manager.”

“A key goal of WIMNet is to conduct further research to identify the causes behind this gap so that they can be communicated to individuals and companies, and then addressed,” said Ms Frater. “One of our KPIs is to eliminate the gap in time for the next Remuneration Survey in 2009. We believe that educating and publicising that the issue still exists, and encouraging women to discuss the issue, will help to resolve it.”

The WIMNet has also become a major advocate for Government support for more flexible child care options in regional areas, as the lack of appropriate child care has been cited in a recent industry study as a major reason women leave mining.

“For women who are new to the industry or have not grown up in a mining region, the towns that dominate it can be challenging and isolating environments,” said Ms Frater.

“Those of us who have had the years to develop coping mechanisms are able to support and mentor other women at networking functions. We have an understanding of how they feel and can advise them of strategies to build a successful career.”

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