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Women Working in Mining Industry the Key to Fixing Worst Gender Pay Gap in Australia, Expert Says



By Louise Miolin

September 1, 2021 - Getting women into high paying industries like mining is the key to closing West Australia's gender pay gap, according to gender pay analysts.

The latest data from the Workplace Gender Data Equality Agency shows the national gender pay gap has worsened in the last six months, widening from 13.8 percent to 14.2 percent. 

According to the government agency, while WA's gap closed slightly in the last year — from 22.7 percent to 21.9 percent—the state maintains the worst pay disparity rate in the country, with the average West Australian man earning $23,000 more a year than the average West Australian woman.

Agency director Mary Wooldridge told ABC radio WA's pay disparity was largely because high-earning, male-dominated industries like mining and construction have been booming in the state.

"It's very much driven by the fact that mining is such a big part of your industry in WA," she said.

"Mining has a very significant gender pay gap of 17 percent," she said.

Wooldridge said while the pay gap in mining was significant, women's average weekly earnings in the mining industry were higher than in any other sector.

Women In Industry Key


Wooldridge said encouraging women into high-paying industries like mining was key to achieving gender pay parity.

She said it was imperative companies recruited women at all levels — from mine sites to boardrooms.


Workplace Gender Pay Equality Agency Director Mary Wooldridge says high paying, male dominated industries like mining are the reason WA has has the worst gender pay disparity in the country.

Photo: ABC News

"The mining industry is 88 percent men, so having more women moving into those industries where they have access to higher pay, but also women moving into more senior roles as well, so they can get the benefits of those higher incomes [is key]," Wooldridge said.

"We need to remove gender stereotypes in terms of our workforces.

"We need to remove bias in terms of recruitment and promotion and pay levels — they are the things that companies need to do to start to narrow the gender pay gap."