ONE of Australia's most successful female executives has warned that attempting to force companies to hire women to match quotas would never work, but that women should fight their way to the top.
Former Macarthur boss Nicole Hollows told the Inspire! conference in Brisbane - put on by the Women in Mining and Resources Queensland group on Thursday - that proving themselves as confident and skilled workers created an equal playing field in what remained a male-dominated industry.
Women make up about 13% of the industry, although that number has been growing after the Queensland Resources Council set a target of 20% by 2020.
She led the emerging powerhouse for more than a decade, right until American mine giant Peabody snapped it up in 2011.
The keys, she said, for women in the industry were to embrace apparently insurmountable challenges and promote themselves when necessary.
Ms Hollows also snuck in a comment for opening speaker Premier Campbell Newman with a gentle prod to cut red tape.
"We need to step up to challenges and, at times, see them as opportunities and take the credit for our leadership and our own actions." she said.
"Hard resilience and merit-based selection, and not quotas, is what is required,
"The first step for all of us is to lead by example.
"We must employ the best person for the job.
"The only way we will get the critical mass to create that change is to support those when they show potential."
Do you think male execs play fair when it comes to supporting talented women?