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Title: Women, mining and gender: experiences in Greater Sudbury
Authors: de Blois, Sarah Lynn
Keywords: Canadian mining industry;Mining;Greater Sudbury;Women;Gender;Occupational segregation;Work;Blue-collar;Equity;Diversity;Inclusion;Othering;Masculine organizational culture;Sisterhood;Camaraderie;Critical discourse analysis;Thematic analysis;Interdisciplinarity
Issue Date: 9-Dec-2022
Abstract: My interdisciplinary research explores the gendered work experiences of women in mining. Statistics Canada confirms women’s unequal participation in the industry, and the Mining Industry Human Resources Council reports that only about fifteen percent of the Canadian mining labour force are women. The literature attests that women often face challenges of acceptance in male-dominated, blue-collar industries. They disproportionately experience discrimination and harassment in industries in which they are the minority, yet the literature does not fully address women’s work experiences in this industry and it is important to do so given mining’s important place in Canada’s economy, both nationally and regionally. My study explores narratives about women’s experiences in this male workplace culture. In 2020, I interviewed 35 people who work in the mining industry in the city of Greater Sudbury, Ontario to ask women (N=24) about their direct work experiences and workplace interactions, and men (N=11) about their work experiences and workplace interactions with women. I used methods of analysis that “bricolaged” approaches of thematic and critical discourse analysis. My findings support the need for further initiatives toward equity, diversity, and inclusion, not only in mining, but in other gender-imbalanced industries. Women described how they experienced resistance to the achievement of acceptance and respect at work. Many experienced harassment and discrimination, and spoke about the masculine organizational culture present in their work environments. Nevertheless, they also described job satisfaction in the work that they perform, and described bonds of kinship with peers. However, these bonds were usually described in gendered terms. Women revealed that the camaraderie they seek most to achieve is to be “one of the boys” or “one of the guys.” At the same time, they spoke about bonds of “sisterhood” in mining, and how the mining industry offers a space where they celebrate alternate expressions of femininity, such as being a “tomboy.” Men confirmed that resistance toward women in mining exists, and that notions of gender essentialism continue to impact perceptions about traits linked to men and women. In sum, my study reveals that the masculine organizational culture of the mining industry is complex. The purpose of my interdisciplinary, community-based study was to understand this complexity and offer solutions for creating more equitable, diverse and inclusive work cultures within the industry for all workers.
Appears in Collections:Human Studies and Interdisiplinarity - Doctoral Theses

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