The short answer is that mining engineering is a career choice of more women than ever before these days. Although men still outnumber women in the engineering professions across the board in Australia, the mining sector has done more and more to make itself more attractive to skilled female engineers. Of course, that does not mean that more does not need to be achieved. That said, plenty of engineering graduates — both men and women — are entering the mining industry with their first postgraduate employment opportunity. How has mining engineering been shaking off its somewhat macho image in recent years?
Improved Working Conditions
Although the mining industry is very established in Australia, it has historically never been at the forefront of comfort when it comes to working conditions. Site offices at open cast mines have often been dirty places, sometimes inappropriately doubling up as changing rooms. This is not the case at the vast majority of sites these days, however. This is largely due to the expensive electrical equipment you will find at increasingly automated mines, of course. Greater focus on cleanliness and the working environment hasn't simply been done to attract and retain more women, of course. It has had that effect on both men and women. While in the past mining engineering might have lost out with female recruits to, say, aerospace engineering, this is increasingly less common.
Better Work-Life Balance
All employees require a degree of flexibility from their employer, and it is often something that professional women cite as being particularly important to them. It doesn't all come down to things like child care arrangements. Nonetheless, greater flexibility of working practices among Australian mining companies has definitely helped with family life, especially in the more remote parts of the country where extensive travel arrangements are needed to get back and forth between home and the place of work.
An In-Demand Skill Set
One of the most important things to say about mining engineering is that there is a high level of demand for the right people with adequate qualifications. Any industry — mining included — that does not make itself more attractive to women will end up only being able to source a fraction of the engineers it needs to thrive. That's why so many engineering associations and professional groups have sprung up which not only help female engineers make the decision to enter the industry but also support and mentor them in their career as it progresses.
Contact a mining engineering firm to learn more.