Have you seen such an ad before? Of course not, that would be discrimination. But if the mining industry is not saying this explicitly, they are most certainly thinking it. Many employers are clamouring to grab hold of this previously untapped market: female truckies.
For at least a decade the mining industry has been luring people across the country in the hopes of better wages and, possibly, a better life for their families. If you’ve ever spent anytime in a mining town, you’ll know that the worker population is overwhelmingly male. One company working to change that is TNT Transport, who has recently completed a nationwide campaign to recruit women in frontline positions. In the coming year, TNT aims to double their number of female drivers from 2% to 4%.
Some believe it’s because women are more careful, more deliberate drivers. As Roger Atkins, Director of the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA), told Australian Mining, some mining companies like to hire female truck drivers because they feel women tend to treat machinery better than their male counterparts. Others say it’s because they are more attentive, deliberate drivers. Either way, it’s an opportunity for a great living. TNT is training new employees for positions from $70k-$90K per year: a tidy starting wage.
Though women make up 42% of the Australian workforce, in the mining industry they account for only 18%, and, if we consider only onsite personnel, that figure drops to just 3%. The hope is that having more women in the industry will bring balance in some mining towns and allow more opportunities for community development in male dominated remote areas.
More women in the mining industry mean more families in mining towns, which is important for the long-term development of these areas. For the time being though, the mining lifestyle is undeniably molded to suit a bachelor: single-room accommodation with little or no kitchen facilities, long hours and few comforts.
Can these new female truckies hack it in the wild? I guess we’ll see.
There’s no denying that the industry will benefit from a feminine touch. As Atkins later stated in regard to Queensland’s female truckies:
“A clear difference when it comes to care and maintenance: men drive back to the workshop and say the differential has had it, while women will say ‘I am feeling this and hearing this’, allowing maintenance teams to pinpoint more easily what the problem might be.”
Interesting. Maybe those previously scoffed at, feminine qualities like “hearing” and “feeling” are not so silly after all.
Amy Knapp is a business blogger based in Sydney, AUS. She regularly comments on the job search industry for Insidetrak. Educated in Law and the Fine Arts, her work champions the marriage of the creative and the corporate. Follow her on Twitter @JoyofWords.