EXPLORATION geologist Claudia Bowman hopes to find Bendigo's next major gold deposit. She is one of a cohort of women the mining sector is optimistic will increase in the near future.
A gender equity audit released in 2021 showed that women made up only 18 per cent of the mining industry workforce and 20 per cent of board positions.
However, the sector has come in for praise from the federal government's Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) for its recent progress.
A WGEA equity insights report stated that mining was consistently performing above the industry average when it came to policies and actions on gender equality in pay.
"Industries such as mining, utilities and finance are the ones leading the way and driving change," WGEA director Libby Lyons said.
The Minerals Council of Australia announced on Monday that Ms Bowman and her colleague Felicia Binks, who both work for Agnico Eagle - owner of the Fosterville gold mine - had won major titles at this year's Women in Resources Awards.
"We have run these awards for the past six years and we are very proud to recognise these incredible women," a spokesman said.
"We have a lack of diversity in mining and we want more women to take part in our industry and we want to show that it is open to all."
The awards recognise career achievements, advocacy of other women, and contribution to social licence and the community.
Ms Bowman, who won the Exceptional Young Women award, said she had worked at the Fosterville gold mine for about four and a half years and had seen the workforce progress even in that short time frame.
"I started working underground and sometimes it would be myself and 100 men," she said.
"More recently I have seen more women working underground. Sometimes there will be seven women to 100 men. I can see a shift in the industry and women becoming more willing to try out jobs in mining. I've been treated very well under ground. It's been like a second family.
"Women are wanted and really valued in the industry. I feel I'm wanted and included."
Ms Binks said she had mentored other women and encouraged them to stay in the sector. She started her career in mineral processing and had since landed a corporate job. She received the Exceptional Woman in Victorian Resources award.
"It's been a good industry for me and that's why I've stayed," she said.
"I took five years off to have my children and managed to come back.
"People used to think you couldn't have children and come back but this has been my third shift in the industry. You can get that work-life balance. That's why these awards are important - to show that women are welcome in the industry."
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