Although there is clearly still a need for more women in the mining industry, the broader focus should be on the younger generations, according to one mining director.

“I don’t think it’s just about women, I think we’ve got to actually be doing a lot more to attract young professionals — both men and women,” says Liza Carpene, non-executive director of junior explorers Alchemy Resources (ASX:ALY) and Mincor Resources (ASX:MCR).

Carpene has worked in the resources industry for more than 20 years and is very active in trying to encourage women and young people to consider a career in resources through organisations like Women in Mining WA and the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Liza Carpene, non-exec director of Alchemy Resources and Mincor Resources.
Liza Carpene, non-exec director of Alchemy Resources and Mincor Resources.

The need for new blood in the mining industry is one that has been raised quite a bit recently – particularly due to the changing skillset that is required as miners step up the pace in automation.

>>Read: Miners are hitting high schools in Perth to tackle a looming skills shortage – and it’s working

“I think we need young professionals that are in the industry, in schools talking to kids and telling them about their great experiences, about the things that they do, about the opportunities they’ve had to travel, or just to raise awareness,” Carpene told Stockhead.

“I’ll give you an example: I took my nieces and nephews to an Hitachi open day and the kids — they were 5,7 and 9 — got to climb all over the equipment, pretend they were driving diggers and they talked about that for weeks and weeks.

“So they’re the types of things that opens their eyes to what they can do before they get to the point where they have to decide what subjects they’re doing at high school to get into university.

“So I think there’s a lot incumbent on the people in the mining industry to be talking to our kids, our nieces and nephews, our friends’ kids to actually promote what we do and how important it is to our future.”


Confidence building

There is still the issue of how the mining industry fares when it comes to attracting women – particularly at the smaller end of the market.

“I think other industries do it better than the mining industry and a lot of that is around also because of FIFO [fly-in, fly-out] and rostering and stuff like that makes it harder in the mining industry, but I think we are getting better at,” Carpene said.

One area that needs work, according to Carpene, is helping increase women’s confidence and ability to “self-promote”.

“One of the things that I think is important for all is that they’re coached early on the importance of networking and self-promotion,” she said.

“Men seem to be able to self-promote I think better. But women need to put themselves out there and to get sponsors and to have the confidence to take risks.

“Men seem to be able to achieve sponsors as opposed to mentors, a distinct difference, far more easily than women can and I think that’s a natural issue around mateship and how men interact with men and women interact with women.”

Carpene said every time she saw or was presented with an opportunity, she took it even if she didn’t think she had the right skills or experience.

“Being from a lower socioeconomic background and fear of failure drove me harder to succeed and work my way up the ladder,” she explained.

“I was also very lucky to have three great mining mentors in my early mining years: Robert Dennis, Robert Champion de Crespigny and Tim Sugden.

“All kept me grounded with good advice and inspired me to be the best mining professional I could be. The way I was treated inspires me to make time to mentor and encourage young people in the same way that I was.”

Carpene said young women need to be able to seek out people who have a seat at the decision-making table and get them prepared to sponsor them and speak on their behalf.

“But this means that women need to then start working harder to make sure that they don’t let a sponsor down, who is putting something at risk by speaking on their behalf,” she said.

“It’s an interesting conundrum, but it’s about confidence in selling your ability.

“The mining industry is great, and incorporating more women makes it better.”