AusIMM Women in Mining Survey 2022
Each year, AusIMM conducts research into the experiences, perspectives and priorities of women in mining.
The annual Women in Mining Survey plays a vital function in providing insights that cut across all professional disciplines, employers, working environments and geographical locations. The 2022 Survey Report provides an in-depth analysis of the findings from the fourth edition of the survey.
The Survey was conducted during January and February 2022 and attracted 550 responses, of which 442 were women.
Key findings call attention to some of the issues that are most pertinent to the diversity, inclusiveness and safety of the resources industry:
- Bullying and sexual harassment: More than three in five (70%) female respondents say bullying is ‘common’ or ‘very common’ in the industry, and 67% indicate sexual harassment is ‘common’ or ‘very common’.
- Gender inequality: A total of 85% of female respondents say gender inequality is ‘common’ or ‘very common’ in the industry.
- Pay equity: Although the gender pay gap is low compared to other industries (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2021) almost one third (28%) of female respondents do not agree that employees receive ‘equal pay for equal work’ in their workplace.
- Isolation: One in three (33%) of female respondents feel isolated in their current role, and the figure is almost two in five (44%) for women working in Fly-in Fly-out (FIFO) and Drive-In Drive-Out (DIDO) roles.
- Mine sites: Women in FIFO and DIDO roles generally indicate a less positive experience within their workplace and, although ratings of on-site amenities are improving, access to toilets remains a persistent challenge.
- Retention: Comparing the previous three years of the survey, the proportion of female respondents who have been working in the sector for ten years or more is trending upwards.
- Professional development: Leadership is the most important development topic for women in mining (93% rate as very or somewhat important), followed by collaboration and innovation (90%) and technology, digitisation and innovation (89%).
- Diversity & inclusion: More than half of respondents rated the industry as ‘poor’ with respect to both diversity (59%) and inclusion (51%), however many rated their individual workplaces higher than the industry and acknowledge the sector (64%) and AusIMM (63%) were ‘becoming more diverse and inclusive'.
Recent reports including the Everyday Respect report commissioned by Rio Tinto, the Western Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into sexual harassment against women in the FIFO mining industry, and associated media coverage, all reinforce the findings of this year’s Survey. The Survey shows that the issues identified in these analyses are not isolated to one employer, location, discipline or working environment.
The findings of this year’s Survey and their stark reflection of the current state of industry are a clear indication that more needs to be done to create a diverse, inclusive and safe environment for everyone.
AusIMM’s Commitment to Action
The insights women share through this Survey provide a clear mandate for AusIMM’s work to drive positive outcomes and improve the experiences of women in mining, including through our own programs and the initiatives we deliver with partners in government, industry and academia.
AusIMM see a range of critical actions that are essential to support and advance women in the sector:
- Standards: Through our Code of Ethics and professional standards, we will articulate a clear duty for our members to act in response to unsafe, disrespectful or harmful behaviour in the industry.
- Advocacy: As a professional association with a global membership base, we will use our platform to elevate the voices, stories and experiences of women in mining, including through our communications, publications, research and events. In partnership, we will work to ensure our professional communities are safe, inclusive and respectful.
- Leadership: We will leverage our role in providing professional development and education to address harmful behaviour head on, and will focus on increasing women’s access to mentoring, leadership development and technical education opportunities.
There are a range of specific examples of the work AusIMM is currently leading across these areas, including our International Women’s Day Event Series, Mentoring Program, Women on Boards Scholarship, Women in Mining Networks and this Survey.
AusIMM is firmly committed to continuously evaluating and enhancing our work to support and advance women in mining. We publish this report with the knowledge that further action to educate ourselves and others, call out inappropriate behaviours when they happen, and act as champions for diversity and inclusion is required from individuals, organisations and stakeholders across the sector.
We encourage all people in the sector to consider the detailed findings and analysis presented in the full report below, and to engage with AusIMM on what more can be done to support and advance women in the resources sector. You can contact us here.
AusIMM Women in Mining Survey Report 2022
The report is organised into five key areas:
- Profile and participation: offers key demographic insights about women in mining, their participation in the sector, the intersectional diversity of women in mining and how these statistics compare to the broader industry.
- Perceptions of the sector and workplace: examines diversity and inclusiveness within the workplace and the broader industry, exploring key issues such as sexual harassment, gender inequality and bullying.
- The on-site experience: provides key insights and recommendations from targeted research into the on-site experience for women in FIFO and DIDO roles.
- Priorities for the industry and professionals: identifies key interest areas of professional development for women, their preferred way to access professional development and education, and their current satisfaction with opportunities to advance.
- Relationship with and perceptions of AusIMM: looks at membership, participation and perceptions of AusIMM in respect of our diversity and inclusiveness.
Note that, as respondents were able to skip questions, some sample sizes may vary for particular questions.
Profile and participation: Women in the resources sector
Age, income and residence
The AusIMM Women in Mining Survey 2022 attracted over 550 responses from across the sector, of which 442 were from women. Based on our survey, the average female respondent is around 40 years of age (Figure 1), on par with industry average (Australian Government, 2021) and last year’s findings.
Most female respondents reside in Western Australia (37%) and Queensland (22%) (Figure 2) and almost one in two are parents (45%) (Figure 3). The reported annual earnings for female respondents (Figure 4) are high, with over 85% earning more than the average female Australian salary (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2021).
Education and qualification
Almost all (95%) women surveyed hold at least one university degree, and almost one in three (31%) hold a Master or Doctorate degree (Figure 5). Over one in five (23%) female participants are currently undertaking study or coursework relevant to the sector and a further 12% are planning to do so.
Time in the sector
Most women who responded to the 2022 survey had worked in the industry for 10 or more years (68%, Figure 7), which is a slight increase from previous years (from 59%: 2021, 66%: 2020 and 62%: 2019). This may indicate higher retention rates for women within the industry.
Seniority and field of practice
Women responding to the survey showed high levels of responsibility in their employment, with almost three in five women (72%, Figure 8) holding a position at a senior level or higher. Mining Geology was the most common area of practice for female respondents (20%), followed by Exploration and Geophysics (16%, Figure 9).
Nature and working environment
The number of women surveyed working in Fly-in Fly-out (FIFO) and Drive-in Drive-out (DIDO) positions has grown modestly over the life of the survey (up to 27% in 2022 from 19%: 2021, 18%: 2020: 21%: 2019), while the proportion of women who commute or are remote residential has remained stable (Figure 10). Most women in the sector continue to work full time in their roles (78%), with only 9% of women working on a part time or casual basis.
This year AusIMM has taken an in-depth look into diversity of women within the resources sector, given the focus of diversity and inclusivity by industry leaders. Six per cent of women respondents in the industry identified as a First Nations person (Figure 12), seven per cent of respondents suffer from a disability, health condition or injury (Figure 14) and seven per cent identify as part of the LGBQT+ community (Figure 15). Nine per cent of respondents (Figure 13) speak a language other than English at home, which is much lower than the national average (21% of Australians)(Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2017).
Although this year’s sample in these groups was not large enough to make any robust inferences, those who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community appeared to have a poorer outlook on the industry. Almost all (20 out of 22) female respondents that identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community from their personal experience see the industry as having a poor level of diversity. 19 out of the 22 respondents see bullying as very/quite common and all (22 out of 22) see gender inequality as very/quite common in the industry.
AusIMM recognise this as an area that requires more data, and the results of the 2022 survey will serve as an important reference point in forming a longitudinal view of these issues. AusIMM will continue to explore intersectional diversity in future surveys and collaborative research projects.
Perceptions of the sector and the workplace
Diversity and inclusion in the resources sector
The survey has continued to gather critical data on resources professionals’ perceptions of diversity and inclusion in their own workplace, as well as in the broader resources industry
Female respondents who work or have worked in the sector rate its diversity and inclusiveness as poor (Figure 16 and 17). Based on personal experience, 51% view the resources industry as having a poor culture when it comes to inclusivity and almost three in five (59%) view the sector as having poor diversity. When looking overall at perceptions of the industry among all female respondents over the years, the percentage of those who see the industry as not very diverse has remained relatively consistent, signifying little improvement has been made in this space.
Over time, an increasing proportion of female respondents have indicated they believe the industry is not very inclusive (51%: 2022, 44%: 2020 and 40%: 2019). It is significant to note that this longitudinal trend is at odds with the finding that 64% of respondents in this year’s survey believe the industry is becoming more diverse and inclusive. This suggests that while professionals see positive change, increasing attention over time (and especially over the previous twelve months) has also raised awareness of the significance of current challenges affecting women in the industry.
However, women are more inclined to think that their workplace is more diverse and inclusive than the wider industry. Five times as many female respondents believe their workplace is very inclusive compared to the industry (27% vs 5%) and almost three times as many respondents believe their workplace is very diverse, compared to the broader industry (23% vs 8%). There is still scope for significant improvement within the workplace with one in three (34%) respondents indicating their workplace has poor diversity and over one in four (28%) rating their workplace as having poor inclusivity.
The majority of women in mining do see improvement at an industry level, with more than three in five female respondents indicating the industry (64%, Figure 18) is becoming more diverse and inclusive, on par with last year’s results (63%: 2021). Only a small minority (3%) think the industry is becoming less diverse and inclusive.
Of note, women in FIFO or DIDO roles are significantly more likely to rate inclusion in their workplace as poor compared to the industry (41% vs 28%). They are also less likely to agree that within their workplace people’s ideas are judged by quality regardless of gender (48% vs 62%).
Bullying, harassment and discrimination in the resources sector
Following the release of the Rio Tinto report (2022) on its workplace culture and the WA inquiry into sexual harassment against women in the FIFO mining industry (WA Government, 2021), AusIMM has taken a deeper look into the prevalence of bullying, harassment and discrimination in the industry.
The vast majority of women said that issues of gender inequality (85%), bullying (70%) and sexual harassment (67%) were very common or quite common in the resources sector (Figure 19). Almost a quarter (23%) of respondents indicated sexual harassment and bullying are ‘very common’ in the industry, and the figure was even greater for gender inequality (39% said ‘very common’).
With a significant number of women indicating these behaviours are common, it is clear the industry has a considerable amount of work to do. These numbers remain relatively consistent across work locations with those in FIFO or DIDO roles being somewhat more likely to think that these issues are very common, and when it comes to bullying are significantly less likely to think that they are not very common (9% vs 20% average). This reaffirms a need for change within the FIFO and DIDO industry.
Safety, equity and support within the workplace
This year, the survey has again sought respondents’ views on several aspects of their workplace experience. Overall, we found that workplaces in the resources sector appear to be performing best when it comes to safety, with 73 per cent of women respondents agreeing with the statement that their employer regards safety as a priority within the workplace (Figure 20).
Post COVID-19, employees increasingly demand more flexibility and work-life balance in their jobs. Fifty eight per cent say job flexibility is a priority in their work place.
When it comes to perceptions of gender equality within the workplace, there is a lower proportion of women agreeing that people’s ideas are judged based on quality regardless of gender (62%) and a much lower proportion of women who agree that they receive equal pay regardless of gender (43%), with almost a third disagreeing with this statement (28%). This further highlights a gender gap and lack of equity within the industry, with a clear need to approach diversity and inclusion as a whole-of-enterprise priority.
Almost two in five (37%) of women would not feel comfortable approaching their employer to negotiate on salary or benefits, just over two in five (45%) feel that their company/organisation makes an effort to give credit and acknowledgement, and only just over half (56%) feel that they have access to appropriate professional support. One in three women (34%) feel isolated in their role in their company.
Women in FIFO and DIDO roles have significantly worse experiences in their workplaces. Gender inequality is far more prevalent, with those in these roles less likely to agree that ideas are judged on quality regardless of gender (49% vs 62% average), women in these roles are also more likely to feel isolated (45% vs 34% average) and feel even less comfortable negotiating their salary with their employer (26% vs 43% average). They also report having less flexibility (42% vs 58% average), work-life balance (42% vs 56%) and access to professional support (37% vs 55% average) within their roles.
Management and supervision in the workplace
Women’s perceptions of their managers and supervisors were examined (Figure 22). With approximately half of respondents saying their manager or supervisor regularly checks on their wellbeing (58%), supports their career advancement (55%) and provides emotional support (49%).
Approximately one in three disagree that their manager takes action to prevent employee burn-out (34%), helps navigate a work-life balance (32%), helps manage workloads (30%) and provides emotional support (31%). There also appears to be room for managers to do more when it comes to getting involved in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives (50%) which could be a small start to helping shift the poor perceptions of diversity and inclusion within the industry.
These results not only show there is a great deal of improvement to be made in training those in leadership roles within the industry, but the lack of support felt may be a contributing factor to negative overall perceptions of the workplace. Consistently, those that disagree with positive statements about management also tend to disagree with positive statements about their workplace. Over three in four of those that feel isolated in their role disagree with all the above statements, indicating that management is a substantial contributing factor in women’s workplace satisfaction.
Consistently, agreement with these statements is lower among women who work in FIFO and DIDO roles, with females in these roles somewhat less likely to agree that management regularly checks on their wellbeing (45% vs 58% average).
What women value most in their workplace
Being treated with respect (28%) was the top factor that women value most in their workplace (Figure 21), with almost half (49%) rating it as the most or second most important aspect of their work experience. This was followed by having “interesting/fulfilling work” and the “team culture/environment”.
The on-site experience of women in mining
The 2022 Women in Mining Survey gathered feedback from participants regarding the on-site working environment, with a particular focus on issues affecting FIFO and DIDO workers.
The results offer insights into how the industry can better improve the working experience and retain and attract professionals into on-site roles. This is especially important given this year’s findings that women in FIFO and DIDO roles tend to feel they are working in less positive environments than those working off-site.
This year’s results suggest that women’s on-site experiences have continued to improve since the previous year. Over two in three women (69%: 2022, 38% 2021) working in a FIFO or DIDO role found their travel support was ‘good’ or ‘very good’ and on-site amenities were also highly rated by three in five women (62%: 2022, 43% 2021) (Figure 23).
Nevertheless, one in five women (21%) rate human resources and healthcare services (20%) as being below average showing there is still considerable room for improvement within these areas.
While on-site experiences show signs of improvement, barriers to toilet use on-site appears to be increasingly becoming more of an issue for women in FIFO and DIDO roles this year (Figure 24). Almost one in two women occasionally or frequently confront barriers around cleanliness/hygiene (50%: 2022, 34%: 2021) and availability/access (47%: 2022, 30%: 2021). A further two in five (40%: 2022, 28%: 2021) have experienced time pressures. This highlights a continuing and increasing challenge around barriers to toilet use for women within these roles which can have a profound impact on the on-site experience.
Priorities for the industry and professionals
Professional development (PD) is important in fostering a more inclusive and diverse environment and supporting women to advance their career across a range of fields within the broad resources sector.
Currently, women are mostly satisfied with their access to professional development (51% satisfied). Nonetheless, almost half of our respondents were indifferent (21%) or dissatisfied (27%) with their access to PD, which shows there is still room for improvement (Figure 25). Women are least satisfied with access to mentoring/coaching (35% dissatisfied) (Figure 25).
These results are consistent with our earlier finding, where only half (56%) of female respondents feel that within their workplace they have access to professional support and agree that their management actively supports their career advancement opportunities (55%) (Figure 20 and 21). This highlights the need for management to take a more active and supportive role in women’s careers within the sector.
Leadership was identified as an important PD and learning topic to 93% women making it consistently the most important learning topic identified by women year on year. This is an indication that the majority of respondents are seeking out more senior roles within the sector and looking for opportunities for advancement. This may also reflect the senior roles of the majority of female respondents surveyed. Collaboration and innovation (55%), and technology, digitisation and innovation (48%) also ranked highly as PD and learning topics respondents felt were very important.
When it comes to women’s preferred channels for accessing continued professional development, almost two in three preferred in-person conferences (64%), a slight drop from 2021 (70%). This was followed by online courses (58%) and webinars (51%). This year saw a shift away from reading, printed materials (from 47%: 2021 to 31%: 2022) towards more online resources, indicating a need for both in-person and online approaches.
Perceptions of AusIMM
Three in four (72%) female respondents are currently members of AusIMM (Figure 28). The qualitative results reiterate the importance of maximising member value through relevant technical, professional and leadership development opportunities.
Four in five (80%) female respondents have attended or participated in at least one AusIMM event. With events (56%) and conferences (56%) having the highest engagement among women (Figure 29).
While female respondents see AusIMM as more diverse and inclusive than the overall industry (Figure 30), one in four perceive AusIMM as performing poorly when it comes to diversity (24% vs 58% industry). Nevertheless, almost one in four perceive AusIMM as being ‘very good’ when it comes to inclusion (23% vs only 5% industry). The majority of women (63%) see AusIMM as becoming more diverse and inclusive, on par with the wider industry (64%).
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Rio Tinto, 2022. Report into Workplace Culture at Rio Tinto [online]. Available from: https://www.riotinto.com/-/media/Content/Documents/Sustainability/People/RT-Everyday-respect-report.pdf
WA government, 2021. An inquiry into sexual harassment against women in the FIFO mining industry [online]. Available from: https://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/Parliament/commit.nsf/(EvidenceOnly)/E5F7ABD1C551FEEC4825870A0027A60E