But while the mining industry is the fastest growing industry in NSW for new jobs, most of them are still going to men.
According to the Women in NSW 2012 report from the state Department of Family and Community Services, in 1996-97 women made up only 6% of all mining employees – now that figure is up to 11% and equates to around 5500 women working in mines across the state.
The disparity is also evident in tertiary education trends.
While the number of women starting apprenticeships and traineeships has increased dramatically since 1995, there are still 10% more men taking up the opportunities.
There are 14% more women pursuing degrees but there is a contrast in the degree paths men and women choose.
At the undergraduate level, 43% of men are enrolled in science, technology, engineering or mathematics but only 33% of women are choosing these courses.
Even though it is one of the highest paid careers for university graduates, only 13% of students enrolled in engineering programs are women.
“While the number of women working in mining or pursuing mining-related studies has been on the rise over the past few decades, we want to see these numbers continue to grow,” the NSW Minerals Council said.
“That’s why we’ve launched the Women in Mining NSW Network.
“WIMIN_NSW is a unique initiative aimed at connecting women already in the NSW mining industry and attracting more women to the field.
“Mining isn’t just for ‘blokes’ and the industry offers many career choices to suit a variety of interests and skill sets.
“We’re determined to see more diverse workplaces and women filling more of the non-traditional roles like engineers, geologists, surveyors and trades.”