Although women are generally under-represented in mining and resources (both in Canada and globally) there are still many moms out there doing an amazing job of juggling the demands of fly-in, fly-out (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.)
"I'm a FIFO mom by choice. I find it gives me the freedom to concentrate on my young 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."
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 judgments of other people. Women are generally the primary carers for their children - those who flip roles often attract 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 upbeat and find a way to make the lifestyle work. The 'traditional' family life (dad working long hours and mom 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 couples are all coming to the same conclusion: it doesn't matter what your work/lifestyle balance looks like, as long as it meets the needs of your individual family.
Tips at a glance
Here are some general tips for FIFO moms from Mining Family Matters' 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 organizations.
- 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.
Women in Mining (WIM) Canada is a national not-for-profit organization formed in 2009 and focused on advancing the interests of women in the minerals exploration and mining sector. Their mission is to enhance the personal and professional development of women across the country, and provide a strong voice within the global minerals and mining community. www.wimcanada.org