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Tips for women working in mining

Women at work

Tips for women working in mining

For women contemplating a career in the male dominated world of mining, psychologist Annie Willcocks has some advice - know yourself, be thick skinned and regulate your emotions.

A regular contributor the website Mining Family Matters, Ms Willcocks says mining offers great career opportunities but women entering the sector need to understand their personal values, goals, strengths and weaknesses and strive to keep moving forward – personally and professionally – when the going gets tough.
“This might sound obvious, but any woman considering a mining career should acknowledge from the outset that she is entering a male-dominated industry,” Ms Willcocks says.

“There’s no point getting onto an outback mine site and realising you can’t handle the blokey culture. It’s worth drawing up a personalised management plan that considers the specific job as well as your own history and personality. A woman who grew up with three brothers, for example, will probably cope on an all-male mining team much better than a woman who grew up with few male role models.”

Ms Willcoks has devised a list of tops tips for women in mining based on her many discussions with successful women in a range of male-dominated industries combined with general workplace resilience philosophies.

They include:

1. Understanding your own values

Identifying your core values will help you to make positive decisions about what you want from your career, and will guide your behaviour and attitude when the going gets tough. Your values will also help you to set meaningful goals. To establish your own values, it’s worth thinking about the people you admire (real people as well as fictional characters from movies etc) and name their specific characteristics. Examples are compassionate, assertive, strong, intelligent, innovative and calm.

2. Be clear about your goals

They will help to keep your mind occupied with problem solving at challenging times. Enlist the support of a trusted manager or supervisor to help with setting and reaching goals, or seek external coaching or mentoring.

3. Adjust your thinking style

This includes positive problem-solving skills and an optimistic view of the workplace. When working in a tricky situation it's important not to fall into unhelpful thinking patterns. Common thinking traps are ‘magnifying’ (blowing a problem out of proportion), ‘personalising’ (making the problem all about you) and ‘over-generalising’ (making any problem about your gender, when the issue might actually have nothing to do with it).

4. Emotional regulation

Recognising that you are angry, upset or excited, but keeping these feelings in check so they don't feel overwhelming. Women traditionally tend to show their feelings more than men, and can sometimes let their emotions inform their decision-making. Knowing yourself is important for emotional regulation – for example, what situations are likely to bring up strong emotions for you?

5. Impulse control

This is a bit like emotional regulation, but refers to behaviours. Good impulse control means that you are able to think and feel strongly about something, but keep your behaviours in check. It's not just about keeping your cool when you feel angry, but also about being able to act assertively even when you don't feel confident.

6. Look after yourself physically

Physical health is important for any career, but especially in male-dominated industries which might be more physically demanding.

7. Be prepared to work hard

8. Pick your battles

9. Keep your sense of humour

10. Know what problems are yours to solve and what aren’t

11. Be thick skinned

his comes back to your thinking style – try not to take things personally. Let comments slide unless they are offensive or ongoing.

12. Be willing to 'put yourself out there' for new challenges

13. Know your industry and join industry groups to promote yourself

14. Avoid sexual relationships with colleagues

“Essentially, working and thriving in mining is about being yourself – a really super, in-control version of yourself,” Ms Willcocks says.

Supplied by Mining Family Matters