Rules of women in the mining industry should be more

Rules of women in the mining industry should be more
Mining News Pro - The number of women working in Chile’s mining sector grew by 40% in the past 12 months, according to a new report by the National Mining Society (Sonami).

According to Mining News Pro - A Sudbury woman, working on her PhD thesis, believes a lot more needs to be done for the acceptance of women working in all levels of the mining industry.  

Sarah de Blois was competing this past week in the provincial finals of the 3MT competition (Three Minute Thesis) to outline her dissertation "Women, Mining & Gender: Experiences from Sudbury, Ontario."

De Blois said part of her research shows that women are under-represented in the mining industry, based on information from  the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (2022) showing that only 20.6 per cent of the Canadian mining labour force are women.

"So the purpose of my research was essentially just to understand the culture and climate that's present within the mining industry, specifically from a gendered lens. So understanding the gendered culture and climates. Does it exist? How does this exist? And how does it affect our workplace communication, collaboration, interaction?" de Blois said.

For the purposes of her research, de Blois said she could not be specific about the nature of discrimination or harassment that has occurred in the mining workplace, because de Blois promised confidentiality to her interview subjects. In the course of her research, de Blois spoke with 25 women and 11 men.

She said discrimination and harassment is happening and de Blois said it was disheartening to hear about it.

"So first of all, just the feeling of being othered, to being a gendered outsider. That feeling of standing out and made to feel as though not only do you stand out, but that you're not supposed to be there. It was really surprising, not only the direct comments that some of these women received about, well you don't belong here. You belong barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. That was reiterated plenty of times."

De Blois also spoke about the term "benevolent sexism," which she described as behaviour not meant to be any sort of put down, but that still had the effect of making someone feel like an outsider. De Blois said this could be opening the door to the lunchroom, or taking on an extra share of the physically demanding work, leaving the impression that the woman is too small or frail to handle it.

While such actions might be considered helpful, de Blois said it can send the wrong message.

"Fine and dandy, but it definitely makes them (women) feel like do I really belong? Am I being accepted here? Be sure if you're being helpful. Perception is a really important thing here," de Blois said.

She added that in her interviews, she discovered many of the women working in mining expressed great job satisfaction. Many women said they loved their jobs even after going through the various challenges, hurdles and barriers. She added that she heard stories of many women who got strong support from other women, and other men, while working in mining.

"Things seem to be, you know, the culture climate is getting better. But it's slow, and it's still not where it should or needs to be. And I think there's a lot to be said about that and improvements and changes still need to be made," de Blois said.

She added she does not have all the answers to make things better, but de Blois said there are things that can be done to help.

"More women in leadership roles, I believe, is one step that should and could be made to better support the industry's not only gender and composition, but also inclusivity, diversity, and equity, generally.

De Blois said there are a disproportionate number of women in leadership roles in the industry.

"And then just more awareness, more training, more knowledge disseminated about this, that hopefully will be heard and be understood and be be respected as something that's important," she said.  

More women join Chile’s mining sector

The number of women working in Chile’s mining sector grew by 40% in the past 12 months, according to a new report by the National Mining Society (Sonami).

The document points out that about 33,000 women are occupied in mining-related jobs, up from the 23,500 that were working in the industry last year.
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“This is a record figure that represents 12.7% of the mining jobs,” the dossier reads. “Male employment, on the other hand, grew by 18% or the equivalent to 34,400 new jobs.”   

Overall, mining jobs in the world’s top copper producer rose by 20.5% in the past 12 months, for a total of 259,000 workers.

“This means that 44,000 job positions were added within a year, while nationwide employment only grew by 8% in the same period,” Álvaro Merino, research manager at Sonami, pointed out in the report. “This is the highest level of employment in the mining sector registered since December 2014.”

Jobs in other industries such as construction, trade, transportation and manufacturing also saw an increase, while the agricultural, financial and insurance sectors experienced some job losses.

Merino also mentioned that Chile’s unemployment rate fell from 10.4% to 7.8% in the past 12 months, while in the mining regions it fell from 10.2% to 8.7%.

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