Women in Mining Series: Meet Rebecca Hotchin

Welcome to our Women In Mining Series:

Meet Rebecca Hotchin – HSEQ Wellbeing Administrator

I am Australian born and raised with my parents originating from the United Kingdom. I am one of three first generation Australians within my family, having an older brother and a younger sister. My early years were spent in Karratha, 1500km north of Perth, WA and in my pre-teen years we moved back to Perth for school. 

I completed Year 12 at Prendiville Catholic College and went straight into completing three Diplomas in Tourism. It was then time to travel and experience the unknown so I moved to England for two years which I used as my base whilst I travelled parts of USA and Europe. I recall working three jobs at one stage just to pay my rent as the base wage was 5pounds per hour ($10AUD per hour @ 20years of age). Since returning to Perth from England nearly 18 years ago, I have moved between travel, hospitality, distribution and mining. I have now been in the Mining sector for over 10 years. Prior to working at McKay’s 5 years ago, I worked for Rio Tinto as a FIFO Site Administrator before being effected by mass redundancies. I am very thankful for my time in the field and the exposure to experiences I gained even as an Administrator. I did have an eagerness to learn which has definitely helped me move forward in this industry. It has allowed me to have a very good understanding of exploration drill rigs, operations, maintenance and logistics. All my interactions with clients, contractors, crews and my own colleagues have always been great and I have been fortunate enough to have had females in management roles throughout my whole career that have been amazing role models.

The 8th March marked International Women’s Day, this day not only raised awareness but highlighted the importance that there is still a journey to be travelled for gender parity in all workplaces. In the Mining Industry in particular, it has always been known to be a predominantly male industry and as a female that can be hard to navigate.

As of 1st March this year with approx.. 220 employees, women within McKay’s represent 10.95% of the workforce with 6.8% of that being women in the field. That means men make up 91.84% of field based employees.

Reflecting on McKay over the past 32 years, the company started with about 4 male employees, by 2011 McKay’s workforce grew to approx.120 with 4 females employed on a full time basis in Perth. That means that women represented 3.33% of McKay’s workforce then with no representation in the field until 2016 onwards. McKay’s with Major Drilling have been driving change to improve our female to male ratio in our workforce and in all aspects of the business not just in the field. It is important to highlight that the rate of growth in McKay’s female workforce aligns with the whole Mining Industry timeline.

We can attribute the lack of women in the field to many things, the AusIMM Annual Survey highlights improvement in amenities, travel support and overall onsite experience over the last 15 years has made working in the field more attractive to women. Many women who completed the survey have been in the Mining sector between 5-10 years but vast majority less than 15 years, therefore the retention rate of women in the Mining sector is positive. Equitable Remuneration was divided within the AusIMM Survey, it showed there is a vast improvement with majority of women agreeing employees are equitably remunerated however the percentage of women that disagreed was not far behind. 

To deviate a little, I am a mother of both a boy and a girl, I see both my children as equal to one another. My 1.5yo daughter reached all her development milestones well in advance of my now 2.5yo son but he still reached them, my daughter often tackles my son to the ground with the same strength my son displays and she walks around holding 5kg objects with the tips of two of her fingers with no sign of dropping it. My daughter shares the same capabilities as my son, as all children that age with no disabilities, so I often ask myself… when did the language, behaviours and thoughts change around the capabilities of women and men? When did gender become more apparent? From birth, we define gender by pink & blue, by the time they are toddlers we see their gender through interests or toys like dinosaurs and barbie dolls, even in the way they dress; then they start school where they could be taught by a female or a male, fast forward they become teenagers and asked the age old question of ‘what do you want to do when you leave school?’.

Take a moment to think back to that day you were asked that question? As a male, did you think about becoming a Receptionist, a Nurse, a Childcare worker, any job that predominantly hires females? As a female, did you think about becoming a Fireman, a Driller, a Tradie, any job that predominantly hire males? As a society, we have shaped our way of thinking around certain roles placing them in a female or male category. In addition to this, the potential for remuneration growth in particular roles is limited. So for many females being asked ‘’what do you want to do when you leave school’’, if society has shaped their way of thinking then their pool of potential careers to select from is significantly less than males and therefore their potential to earn is also effected. 

In saying that though, there are a great deal of women amongst us that have now paved the way for future generations of young women to feel more comfortable in even considering embarking in careers that for so long have been ‘out of reach’ to women. It is amazing to know that the future generations of young girls like my daughter can actually see gender representation in all industries today. I am proud to work for a company that hires women Offsiders, Drillers and Automotive Technicians, even prouder that they are given the same opportunities as their male counterparts in those roles.

To touch on the journey I referenced above, I want to give you an example: in order for women to close the gender parity gap, it will need to be considered that men will also need to be given the same opportunities as women in regards to leave entitlements around children. The future may look very different and not all women who hold careers in the field will want to step away long term to raise their children. More men are stepping into the role of ‘Stay at home Dad’ formerly known as ‘Stay at home Mum’ helping women with young families retain their careers in the field more and more possible. That’s just something to think about!

Barriers and stereotypes are fast becoming a thing of the past and to me this is what International Women’s Day represents. Change is always inevitable, today we are all accountable to how it is managed. How your sisters, nieces, daughters and granddaughters are going to excel in this world is largely attributed to themselves and their choices but we all impact their journey with how we perceive and treat women in the workforce. We can all do better to be equals.

 

References: 2021 Women in Mining Survey report | AusIMM

 

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