The mining industry is, and always has been, one of the most male-dominated of all industries, throughout the world. There were times when there wasn’t a single female employee in a mining company, and while that’s slowly been changing, it is still a career field in which male employees far outweigh females.
This is true in almost every aspect of the industry, in any career level, from workers in the mines themselves, to senior level executives. A recent study, entitled “Mining for Talent,” concluded that mining “has the fewest number of women on its boards of any other industry, with women occupying only 5 per cent of the board positions of the top 500 global listed mining companies.” However, one of the most interesting and enlightening facts to come out of the study was that “profit margins are higher for mining companies with women on the board.”
So while women are still highly underrepresented, it would benefit the industry to hire more females. Luckily, interviews such as this one point out that women around the world are “paving the way for employment and gender equality, and their rising numbers are beneficial to young women who, in the future, will find it easier to pursue their careers as a direct consequence of [their] efforts.”
The interview focuses on one such woman, a South African mine manager named Wilhemina Manaso who has made it to her management position after only seven years in the industry. Of course, those years were not always easy, and she faced many challenges, but she’s found great success as well. Wilhemina faced resistance and even threats in the beginning, but overall, she calls it a “fantastic career.”
And while not glamorous, she states that “conditions are improving all the time,” and that opportunities continue to arise. In fact, in South Africa, mining companies have female-employment quotas that must be met, so the relatively few women in the industry are in high demand.
While the industry might not be for everyone, women like Wilhemina find it rewarding and exciting, and hope that more females consider the same path as hers. And as doors continue to open, perhaps many more women will.