When Alex Atkins joined the WA School of Mines in 1986, she had no idea she would be part of the first wave of women legally allowed to work in underground mines.
Until 1986, West Australian mine owners faced fines of up to $500 if women were caught working underground. New South Wales and Queensland changed their laws in 1989. But 32 years later, Ms Atkins said more changes were needed to bring the industry up to speed and encourage more women to stay.
The mining industry has long presented barriers for the participation of women — the lack of flexible work arrangements, the reliance on fly-in-fly-out labour, and the dominance of men in senior positions.
As the only woman studying her discipline at the time, Ms Atkins said she felt isolated from the very start of her career. “I have a boy’s name and I caught the bus from Kalgoorlie to Laverton to do some work on Christmas break,” she said.
“I went to the office, he looked at me and said ‘you’re a woman, you can’t stay here [in the male-only accommodation], get back on the bus’. “He let me stay but I had to walk into town and find someone to help me. “So I found the parish priest and he put me up with a family who let me stay in their garden shed.”
For the rest of this article: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-15/the-battle-to-keep-women-in-mining/10118930