December 2016

The gender pay gap and the mining industry

  • By Rex Berthelsen FAusIMM(CP), President, AusIMM

What the 2016 AusIMM Professional Employment Survey says about the gender pay gap

As part of the AusIMM Professional Employment Survey conducted in June 2016, the AusIMM asked questions about the remuneration that survey respondents receive. These questions are included every two years in the Professional Employment Survey and provide a valuable insight into how the current industry climate is affecting members’ salaries. As the remuneration results from the 2016 AusIMM Professional Employment Survey are raw and unadjusted figures, they should not be used to make any definitive or broad conclusions about the difference between men and women’s remuneration in the mining industry. However, some interesting observations can still be made about how the gender pay gap among AusIMM members compares to the wider mining industry and Australia as a whole.

As in other industries, there is a notable gap between the wages earned by men and women for comparable jobs in the mining industry. However, the mining industry does perform better than many other industries, with the gender pay gap amongst mining employees of 16 per cent being lower than the overall Australian average of 19 per cent (WGEA, 2016a).

Among respondents to the 2016 AusIMM Professional Employment Survey, the overall average difference in pay between men and women was 23 per cent, which was notably higher than the mining industry average of 16 per cent reported by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

The results from this year’s survey show that the number of years that a minerals professional has been working in the mining industry has a significant impact on the gender pay gap. As shown in Figure 1, for the first ten years of their career, men and women earn a similar amount each year, with no significant difference in their annual salaries. However, after they have been in the industry for more than ten years, men and women’s annual salaries diverge, with men’s salaries continuing to rise steadily while women’s flatten.

The average gender pay gap for mid-career professionals (those with between 11 and 20 years’ experience) is 22 per cent, which is a significant increase compared to those in the early stages of their career (between one and ten years’ experience), when the gender pay gap is just two per cent. While the average gender pay gap declines to 15 per cent in the latter stages of a mining professional’s career (those with between 21 and 31 years’ experience1), these results should be regarded with a high degree of caution as the number of female respondents indicating that they had been working in the minerals industry for more than 20 years was very low.

The fact that there is such a distinct divergence between men and women’s salaries at the ten-year mark of their careers is most probably due to women temporarily leaving the industry to start a family. This highlights the difficulties that women often face when resuming their career after having children, both in terms of salary expectations and career progression.

As is to be expected, the gender pay gap trend for those working at different levels of responsibility is very similar to the one seen for experience in the minerals industry. As shown in Figure 2, for those working at levels 1 and 2 (for a definition of each responsibility level, see ‘The AusIMM Professional Employment Survey 2016’ in the October 2016 edition of The AusIMM Bulletin), the gender pay gap is negligible. In fact, the gender pay gap for those working in level 1 positions is actually 35 per cent in favour of women.

However, as the level of responsibility increases, so too does the gender pay gap, rising from just four per cent for those in level 2 positions to 17 per cent for those in level 5 positions. In terms of real dollar values, this equates to a difference of approximately $37 000 per annum for those working in positions with the greatest responsibility.

In recent years, the mining industry has made significant progress in reducing the gender pay gap, with the difference between men and women’s salaries falling by five percentage points between 2014 and 2015 (WGEA, 2016b). However, as shown by the findings from the 2016 AusIMM Professional Employment Survey, there is still much work to be done in bringing men and women’s salaries closer to parity, especially for mid-career professionals and those that take time out of their careers to start a family.




Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), 2016a. WGEA data explorer [online]. Available from:

Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), 2016b. Gender pay gap statistics [online]. Available from:

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