St Barbara Limited Principal Business Development and resources education advocate, Meryl Jones, fell in love with geology on a two-week placement in the Flinders Ranges while studying maths, chemistry and geology. This led to a 30-year career spanning mining and exploration geology, land management and business evaluation. 

“I love my job and I’ve had an amazing, diverse, challenging career in the resources sector. I have never had an issue with being a female in a male-dominated industry. I grew up in a male-dominated family and my father was very supportive of me going into the industry.

"At the time my Mum said, 'You can’t go out there in all that dust and dirt with all those men!' and my Dad said, 'The most important thing is to find a job you love.'”

When Meryl first started working in 1986 in a small gold mining company, there were 40 employees and two were women.

"Throughout my career men have been incredibly supportive and have taken me under their wing and mentored me – I think because they knew that I was willing to do the best job that I could."

Meryl joined St Barbara in 2011 and was one of the first people to work flexibly.

"I went to my job interview and said I wanted to work part-time. The interviewer was unsure, but I said, ‘I understand you have some concerns, but let’s give it a try.’ And it’s been a great success.

"Because I am happy in my working arrangements, I give 120% of myself to the company. That’s a win win for me and many others who work flexibly at St Barbara," Meryl said.

St Barbara has been working to increase the number of women in its male-dominated workplace for several years, with the aim of achieving a more equal balance of women and men across the organisation.

"The company is doing some great things around attracting and retaining women – in particular the new internal network for women. I’ve been part of the mentoring program where I have been mentoring a woman in her thirties and now, in turn, she’s using those mentoring techniques to mentor a woman in her twenties,” Meryl said.

With a limited number of applications received from women for site-based technical and professional roles, St Barbara has developed strategies to counteract existing barriers to attract and retain women and was recently awarded ‘Employer of Choice for Gender Equality’ for the fourth consecutive year. St Barbara is focused on four main action areas – female recruitment, retention of women, advancement into management roles and pay equity.

Meryl Jones is also the founder, and Chair of the Board, of the Get Into Resources program, as well as a Director of Earth Science Western Australia

The 2018 Get Into Resources (GIR) educational event will be held on 20 to 22 June, that uses TAFE’s simulated underground mine training facility known as ‘The Cut’.

Over the course of a day, school students are given the opportunity to interact with  professionals and tradespeople from the resources sector and participate in a series of hands-on presentations to get an overview of the opportunities resources industry.

“One of the aims of GIR is to attract young women to the resources sector for the future talent pipeline – I’d like to see every high school child come through the GIR program.

"I want girls to know that resources is more than rocks, big trucks and dirty blokes – that there are well over 150 different jobs on a mine site from a kitchen hand to general manager – and every one is essential for a mine site to work efficiently,” says Meryl.

“We all know there is a problem with girls not taking STEM subjects and I meet many girls who say they never knew what type of opportunities there were in the resources sector.

"Some have even gone back to their schools the day after participating in GIR and changed their Year 11 subject choices so they can pursue a career in resources. The GIR model is simple to replicate and it would be great to expand it into other locations.”

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