Mining mums - a superb juggling act
Although women generally are under-represented in mining, there are still some mums out there doing an amazing job of juggling the demands of FIFO rosters and their family lives.
These women certainly do face a number of challenges. Successfully combining work commitments with children requires a strong determination to making it work ... and of course the practical assistance of supportive family and friends. (Women say that working a FIFO roster with children would be impossible without the practical support of others.)
All FIFO parents face personal obstacles as a result of working away: missing important family events; juggling competing demands when at home; isolation when away. However, it seems that FIFO mothers face additional difficulties too, such as the judgements of other people. Women are generally the primary carers for their children - those who flip roles often cop criticism or raised eyebrows from others, especially in non-mining communities were the practice is uncommon.
However, there are positives. As with any career, it's up to the individual woman and her family to remain positive and find a way to make the lifestyle work. The 'traditional' family life (dad working long hours and mum staying home with the kids) is less and less common and families are increasingly empowered to find what works for them. Social researchers and average Joes are all coming to the same conclusion: it doesn't matter what your work/family balance looks like, as long as it meets the needs of your individual family.
Here are some general tips for FIFO mums from MiningFM's resident psychologist Angie Willcocks:
- Remain clear about why you chose mining as a career and/or FIFO as a lifestyle. Choose to see the positives and find ways to make the lifestyle work for you and your family.
- Seek out support through family, friends, professionals and organisations.
- Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to work/family balance.
- As hard as it might be at times, try to ignore other people's opinions of how you and your family have decided to structure your work and family time. (And don't always assume that people are thinking negatively about it.)
- Be realistic. It won't always be plain sailing, but what job ever is?
- Regularly review how you and others in your family are coping. Identify and deal with any issues as they arise. Clear communication is key.
"I'm a FIFO mum by choice. I find it gives me the freedom to concentrate on my (primary school aged) children during my days off. FIFO allows me to be more efficient with my time. This option is a medium-term goal while I complete other goals ... Believe in yourself and make things work for you."
Other great women in mining:
- Burkie, the first woman to receive her ticket for the HS002 Hydraulic Shovel at Xstrata's Ernest Henry Mining in Cloncurry, Qld.
- Hannah, a resource geologist based out of Perth
- Maura: mining administration guru
We'd love to hear your story, too: how you entered the industry, why it works for you and any advice you can offer to other women keen to be a part of Australia's booming mining industry. Tell us about it...