A recent survey by the AUSTRALASIAN INSTITUTE OF MINING & METALLURGY (AusIMM) has revealed that the average salary increase in the mining industry in that country was 18% over the past two years. That's good news, certainly. It also reflects the red-hot demand for miners and tradesmen that is felt in Canada, too.
However, the AusIMM survey also showed that at senior management levels, males are earning almost 25% more than their female counterparts. The discrepancy is not due to larger numbers of women working part-time hours. Men earn an annual average base salary of A$201,992 whereas women in the same roles earn only A$154,846.
The rest of the story from Australia, presented to the annual AusIMM congress in Brisbane last month, might easily apply to Canada.
"Controlling for hours worked, males still earn more per hour than women at almost every level," said Monika Sarder, senior policy and research co-ordinator at AusIMM, "The only exception to this is at graduate level, where women are paid slightly more. This may be due to companies wishing to increase gender diversity by seeking to entice female graduates with higher salaries.
"However once professionals progress through to more experienced levels, an escalating pay gap emerges, ranging from 5% difference per hour for a young professional at Level 2 to 20% per hour for a senior manager at Level 5."
In the current climate of skills shortage, increasing female participation rates in the minerals sector has become a priority for industry. Without the capability to attract and retain women, the industry is effectively missing out on one half of the working population. The most recent ABS statistics have shown that women account for only 18% of the mining workforce, compared with 45% of the total workforce.
A recent study by the MINERALS COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA showed that the most common reason women leave mining is to have children. Other issues were difficulties with long distance commuting, a desire to be closer to family and friends if living in a remote location, and management issues such as a lack of communication.
The WOMEN IN MINING NETWORK (WIMNet), an AusIMM subcommittee aimed at increasing womens participation in the minerals sector, has recognized that lack of access to affordable child care is a major obstacle to retention of women in the mining. A major initiative in 2007 has been advocacy in favour of tax deductibility of care expenses.
I would hope that Canadian women in the mining industry are paid as well as their male counterparts, although I have seen no numbers comparable to the Australian experience. The STATISTICS CANADA website (www.StatCan.ca) reveals that among university-educated women and men aged 25 to 29, there was an 18% wage gap in 2001. That number is not specific to any particular industry.
So I am asking if any CMJ readers have seen numbers that relate to gender earnings differences in the Canadian mining industry, please let us know where you found them.