THE WEST AUSTRALIAN
Wednesday, 28 November 2012 14:21
The new chair of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Women in Mining network fears gender imbalance in the industry may get worse because more women than men have lost their jobs in the latest round of lay-offs.
Kirsty Liddicoat, mine manager at Focus Minerals' Laverton operations, said figures and anecdotal evidence collected by the advocacy group suggested a higher proportion of women than men were being let go as weaker commodity prices forced companies to cut costs.
She said there was a risk some of the gains made in getting women into mining could be lost.
"We believe that the downturn that's happening at the moment is going to increase the gender pay gap and affect the number of women (in the industry)," she told _WestBusiness _.
"It could be because some of the first roles to go are the female-dominated areas like human resources . . . but from talking to people we do know that some of the people (losing their jobs) are in technical roles. We don't know why it is but it's something we think we need to look at and see what we can do to help."
Ms Liddicoat, who stepped into the role last week, said there were a number of issues facing women in the industry.
They included the gender pay gap, discrimination or harassment and isolation on fly-in, fly-out minesites, where women on average accounted for just 5 to 7 per cent of the mine workforce.
"I think a big one in the industry is still discrimination and harassment to a degree," she said.
"It's definitely nothing like it used to be and it's not really obvious whether it's perceived or real but studies have shown women still feel there is some form of harassment and discrimination because they're female."
Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency yesterday released figures showing mining was among the least gender-diverse industries and that WA was lagging the rest of the country when it came to having women on boards or in senior management positions.
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