Women in the Mining Industry by Jennifer Gorton

Published: 13/12/2013

Jennifer Gorton, Forex Traders, 7th September 2010

The mining industry is one that has been dominated by men for centuries. However, this trend is beginning to change around the world.  Several factors are beginning to coalesce that are forming a strong trend of women entering into the mining industry.  Until the last decade, really, most women employed in the mining industry were employed in administerial and clerical positions, but in recent years that is beginning to change.  Women are working in the mines, driving trucks, and even owning companies.  The incredible commodity boom in recent years has created a huge demand for skilled workers, and many of these skilled workers are turning out to be women.


Australia is a country that is rich in natural resources such as gold and platinum.  The increase of women in the mining industry in Australia has been quite impressive in the last ten years.  In the spring of 2009, there were 17,500 women in the mining workforce, compared to 8,400 in 1998.  This number will most likely increase dramatically in the next 5 years as Australia’s booming mining industry is facing a chronic labor shortage.  Australian Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard has estimated that the mining industry would be short 70,000 skilled workers by 2015.

That means wages will grow quite nicely in the mining industry and this will most likely help to convince even more women to join an industry that has long been dominated by a male workforce.  The high salaries are one major incentive that is serving to draw women into a career in mining, but the willingness for companies to be provide flexible working arrangements for women, accommodating schooling and childcare needs has also helped significantly.

The Australian mining industry is expected to continue growing at incredible rates in the next decade as emerging markets such as India, China, Russia, and Brazil put huge demand on Australia for raw materials and natural resources.  This continued growth in the industry should coincide with a continued growth in women’s presence in the mining industry.<

South Africa

Alongside Australia, South Africa is considered a global mining leader.  With huge gold and natural resource deposits throughout the country, South Africa has long been a favorite for mining countries.  The role of women in the South African mining industry has changed quite significantly in the last 15 years since the end of apartheid-era rule.  During apartheid-era rule, the law stated that no women were to work in the mines; thus, the mining industry was literally dominated 100% by a male workforce for decades and decades.  With the end of apartheid-era laws, the government instituted new laws that demanded mining firms change their hiring habits.  Of course, there was natural backlash at first as many firms…