B.C. Mining Leader Says Industry Holds Tremendous Opportunity For Young Women

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The barriers that once deterred women from joining and excelling in the Canadian mining industry are slowly being dismantled.

More firms are adopting formalized harassment and childcare policies, addressing work-life balance concerns and clarifying outdated perceptions about 21st-century mining to attract skilled female workers.

While its workforce is still predominantly male, the industry has made strides in employee diversity and gender inclusiveness.

Women now make up 18.6% of the Canadian mining workforce according to a 2011 Carleton University report, an increase of 4% from 2006.

It may be out of necessity, since over 40% of the workforce is set to retire within the next 10 years.

But the report reveals that despite the looming labour shortage and an increase in female graduates of engineering and technology-related programs, women are underrepresented on mine sites and in mining boardrooms.

Many reports and studies call on mining CEOs and top executives to do more. And this has industry leaders like Karina Briño, president and CEO of the Mining Association of British Columbia (MABC), feeling optimistic about the future of Canada’s mines and mining workforce.

“There is tremendous opportunity for women and I’m an example of that.” —Karina Briño, President and CEO, Mining Association of British Columbia (MABC)

“The industry is focusing on increasing the participation of under-represented groups like Aboriginals, immigrants and women,” she says, referring to provincial task forces (like the BC Mining HR Task Force) and university conferences that unite key stakeholders to spur discussion and collaboration.

“There is tremendous opportunity for women and I’m an example of that.”

Karina’s rise to the top of one of the top provincial industry associations with limited technical knowledge is an example of just how much the mining industry has evolved.

More women are being actively recruited not because they are women, but because they have the instincts, skills and experience to make mining companies more efficient, sustainable and profitable.

Did you know? The world’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, presides over a multi-billion-dollar coal and iron ore empire in Australia.

Here’s a list of skills Karina says women should have to excel in mining:

  • Know your stuff: Being knowledgeable in both the technical and business aspects of mining will help you gain the trust and respect of your coworkers. Consult online resources, contact a mining professional for advice or enrol in a mining-related post-secondary program.
  • Communicate clearly and assertively: “This is true for everyone, regardless of your gender, capacity or position,” Karina says.
  • Think outside the box: Listen to the potential solutions, try to find common ground and determine where compromises can be made when you’re solving problems under pressure.
  • Think about the consequences: Consider how your decisions affect your company, the environment and the local community.
  • Be open and flexible: “Our ability to be responsible citizens has a lot to do with responsible development,” she says. There are many opportunities to make your mark on the sector and on the world. Be open to travelling, try new things and listen to instructions or advice.

Mining Week - student and entry level jobs in mining from companies like Vale, Goldcorp, Barrick and BHP Billiton

Photo credit: Andrew J Ferguson

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