Making money in mining is still harder for women

Published: 13/12/2013

Kate Haycock,, 17th February 2010

THERE was good and bad news for mining workers in the latest Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy survey of salaries in the industry. Across the board, mining workers earned more money last year despite the challenging business conditions of much of 2009, but for women, the top end of the pay scale is proving increasingly difficult to crack.

The AusIMM’s yearly survey of 933 of its members found the average base salary for respondents was $A167,000, some $A8000 or 5% higher than in the 2008 survey. The institute estimates average wages have increased by 18% in the past two years.

For women in mining the picture was a little less rosy, however, with the survey showing a significant gender gap in pay for the third year in a row – a gap that widens the further up the career and pay scale women progress, and also increases as women work more hours. And compared with AusIMM’s own figures from 2007 and 2008, the gender pay gap is getting worse.

According to the AusIMM chief executive Michael Catchpole, the industry should care about the gender pay gap because as it ramps up production companies will need to address persistent issues around gender equity and flexibility needs of carers to retain staff and meet skills needs. With the skills shortage forecast to return with a vengeance over the next few years, groups such as the Women in Mining Network (WIMnet) say attracting and retaining skilled staff will require mining companies to look at gender equity issues in employment.

The survey broke wages down into levels of responsibility, with level one representing new entrants to the industry and level five for experienced, more highly paid professionals in management roles.

Given that women generally work shorter hours than men – although the AusIMM survey suggested this difference isn’t huge, with women respondents most likely to work 40-44 hours per week compared to men, who were more likely to work 45-49 hours per week – the survey averaged out pay on a per-hour basis.

Per hour, the gender gap for level two workers in 2007 came to 6% or the $A2 difference between $A34 an hour for men and $A32/hour for women.