WA’s outstanding woman in resources for 2018 says broader cultural change will be the key to increasing gender diversity in the State’s resources industry.

Peta Libby, who spent her early career with WMC in Leinster in the northern Goldfields and founded independent geology firm Digirock in the remote Northern Territory town of Tennant Creek two decades ago, said if workplaces were to become more diverse, children had to be taught from a young age that men and women were equal.

“I don’t think it’s just a resources industry problem, I think role modelling starts at home,” she said.

“We have to teach our sons and daughters that we’re all entitled to be equal and we have to share the burden.

“Both women and men are far happier when they share things equally and across the industry, that’s where it’s got to start.”

Mrs Libby, who beat Rio Tinto’s Melissa Cundy and Alcoa’s Marisa Ioppolo-Armanios to the prize at the Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA’s awards breakfast at Perth’s Convention and Exhibition Centre on Friday, also credited the Goldfields with playing a major role in her rise to prominence.

“The first of the opportunities I was given came out of the Goldfields and it’s been fundamental to my technical learnings, my learnings about the way business works, it’s been absolutely crucial and the connections I’ve made,” she said.

“Those connections I made 25 years ago are still my business connections today and what has enabled me to be on not-for-profit boards now and be involved in decision-making spaces in the sector.”

The awards ceremony came a week after a report by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency and Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre last week that indicated the pay gap in mining was getting smaller.

Figures this week from the Australian Institute of Company Directors also showed 47 per cent of new appointments to ASX200 listed company boards so far in 2018 were female, up from just 8 per cent a decade earlier, although 115 companies in the All Ordinaries index remain 100 per cent male.

Mrs Libby said junior mining companies should lead by example by appointing more women to their boards.

“I think a greater push for women on boards is just good business, and I don’t think women should be perceived as women on boards, they’re just board members ...

I actually think that the junior space can affect change far quicker than the majors can because they’re more nimble … it just takes a champion for change,” she said.

BHP processing production supervisor Dhakshi Weerawardena was named the outstanding young woman in resources, Chevron’s Veena Mendez claimed the women in resources champion prize, and Rio Tinto won outstanding company initiative for implementing a program to support victims of domestic violence.

Image: Peta Libby (left) was named WA’s outstanding woman in resources for 2018. Picture: The West Australian.