In a report published this week, the Government of New South Wales concluded that women are underrepresented in the high paying industries of mining and construction and increasing their involvement is still a big challenge.
While the gender wage gap is narrowing, and the labour participation rate is growing, the study says that women still earn 14% less than their male colleagues and are more prone to choose jobs that don’t pay well.
Engineering and earth sciences, the best paying graduate jobs in 2011, do not have a significant number of female professionals.
"Women are under-represented in some hazardous industries with high injury and disease rates, such as mining and construction, but over-represented in industries such as health and education with high interpersonal demands," says the report.
"Women hold ten percent of jobs in the construction industry and 11 percent of jobs in the mining sector in NSW, as opposed to 78 percent of jobs in health care and social assistance and 68% in education and training," it adds.
Recently, Australia has been actively seeking the inclusion of more women in mining.
At the end of 2011, Australia Women in Resources Alliance (AWRA) was created to increase female participation in the sector. The group is working in partnership with the industry and the Federal Government's Critical Skills Investment Fund to boost the attraction and retention rate of women in the resources industry.
Last February, the New South Wales Minerals Council launched the Women in Mining Network to boost female participation in the industry, which stands at just 10%.
And in March, the University of Queensland published a study, commissioned by the Resources and Engineering Skills Alliance (RESA), recommending a far greater involvement of women in mining as they are “the largest, mostly untapped, labour pool available to the industry.”
There is still quite a way to go, states a report published last month by PricewaterhouseCoopers, saying that mining "lags other industries in employing skilled women".
"Entrenched and outmoded attitudes towards women's roles and career prospects remain," it says, adding that many of the companies the analysts spoke to were aware of the need to redress the gender balance and were already taking steps to do so.