Line management experience would offer opportunities for women in an industry that is predominately dominated by males, Chevron human resources general manager Kaye Butler said.
“It’s critical for women to get line experience early in their careers if they want to get key executive positions,” she told the conference.
“And the fact is there are a very small percentage of women in line positions.”
Butler said the industry could work towards gaining a critical mass of women in senior levels by increasing the awareness of barriers facing women, offering flexible working hours and increasing training opportunities.
“Preparing women for line management is absolutely critical because the more line experience they have the more chance they will have of getting promoted,” Butler said.
Butler said the mining industry didn’t see many women in leadership positions because the issue was misdiagnosed.
She said there had typically been a “glass ceiling” surrounding the issue of women in leadership roles, and admitted the reality in females reaching the top was a rather complex passage with multiple barriers.
Butler also noted that while having family responsibilities had positive effects on male promotions, it had the opposite effect for women.
“We need to get over this built-in prejudice and not hide behind some fancy statistics,” she said.
Butler said from the outset women were not taught to succeed because boys and girls grew up in different cultures.
“Boys grow up playing games where women lose and they get taught how to win,” Butler said.
“Girls get taught how to play dolls, how to play house.
“But you can’t win from playing dolls.”
Another keynote speaker at the seminar, Confident Woman Australia director Rachel Green encouraged women to “self promote” themselves in the industry.
Green said women had historically been punished for speaking out, reducing their ability to speak up about their skills and capabilities.
“Women express using language of doubt but men express by using language of confidence,” Green said.
She suggested that females doubted their abilities, resulting in lost leadership opportunities.
“Women have doubt which results in women thinking they’re not good enough,” she said.
Green said women could overcome this by stating and making their value known to colleagues, and letting go of the negative thoughts such as doubt and guilt which did not seem to plague men as much.
Women in Mining WA founder and Momentum Partners manager Sabina Shugg said the annual seminar helped raise women’s profiles and provided a platform for the discussion and sharing of ideas and knowledge in the mining industry.