Experiences of women in the platinum mining industry
Calitz, Pearl Louise
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The South African mining industry has been a male dominated environment for a very long time. With changes in government policy and legislation, discriminatory laws forbidding women to work underground have been repealed and the mining industry have since been trying to accommodate women. Unfortunately there is an imbalance to this general trend of increase shown by the consistently low numbers of female employees within the mining industry. It was far-fetched for management to perceive that women can ever play a role in the underground mining industry. Unfortunately the perceptions of management is having an enormous impact on the attitudes of the rest of the employees in this industry. This leads to discrimination in the mining industry that will make it difficult for the women seeking financial stability. The whole mining industry should learn to adapt to this idea of women in mining. Employing women in the mine is a challenge of the mindset of viewing mining as a men's world. The objective of this research was to determine the experience of women in the platinum mining industry in South Africa as well as the impact that women entering the mining industry could have on the mines in terms of the working conditions, harassment, physiological aspects, ergonomics, physical strength, discrimination etc. The research method for this article consists of a brief literature review and an empirical study. A qualitative design has been used on an availability sample (N = 14) females in the platinum mining industry. The qualitative research makes it possible to determine the subjective experience of women working in the platinum mining industry. The literature focused on previous research on the experience of women entering the mining industry as an employee. vii The outcome of this research was that the male worker attitude and discrimination have an enormous impact on women that are entering the mining industry. One of the more difficult hurdles to overcome is the harassment that women need to deal with The women are also facing a huge challenge in terms of their physical strength not being adequate in order to perform up to a minimum of eight hours per day in the harsh working conditions including the ergonomics of the mining industry. Most of the women are entering the mining industry for financial reasons in order to survive in the South f i c a n Economic environment of today. After a hard day performing these physical activities they need to face their responsibilities at home in order to manage a work-home life balance. Management need to start seeking solutions to make the mining industry a more women free environment for example focussing on facilities for women. The fact that women were appointed into the mining environment covering traditionally male sectors, also speaks to a commitment to changing the face of the mining industry. Recommendations for future research were made.