Title page for ETD etd-02132012-110815

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Heine, Andrea
URN etd-02132012-110815
Document Title A model for managing the barriers of introducing women into a mining industry
Degree MCom
Department Human Resource Management
Advisor Name Title
Prof H Brand Supervisor
  • woman
  • barriers
  • mining industry
  • model to manage barriers
Date 2008-10-01
Availability unrestricted
Since its inception, the Mining Industry was reserved for males. Females were allowed to perform the so-called 'soft jobs', but only started working underground in 1996. As a result the Mining Charter was introduced and one of its objectives was to force employment of women in the core function of the Mining Industry. The target of 10% women in mining is only a starting point for organisations to comply with each and every individual’s constitutional right. It is clear from the legislation that changes in the Mining Industry should take place and therefore the Mining Charter was introduced to have clear targets with set time frames for meeting these targets. There are several challenges or barriers that organisations are faced with once they introduce women into a Mining Industry. These barriers typically include: competent, qualified females, physical differences between males and females, the mining environment, standards of Personal Protective Equipment, high turnover of women, specifically professional and middle management women, cultural differences and lastly the cost implications for organisations.

Mining Houses are profit-orientated organisations and reserve the right to review the cost implications of employing women in mining and to consider the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. Ultimately it affects the bottom line of the organisation and whether the cost implication is direct or indirect, it is crucial for organisations to manage the changes of introducing women into a Mining Industry.

In general the Mining Environment is known to be a harsh environment not only because of the physical strain that is required to complete the tasks under noisy, cold or warm conditions, but also the necessity of employees working shifts and the risks related to working shifts. Other conditions associated with the Mining Environment are, fatigue, design of mining machines and ergonomics. It is clear that physical strain is present in the Mining Industry, although technology has been incorporated to improve olden days mining techniques compared to the mechanised mining techniques of today. The problems that shift workers experience relate to both the phase-displacement of their work-sleep periods and adverse negative working conditions that may be combined with shift work. Work-related fatigue may arise in situations requiring concentration for extended periods during work hours, performing strenuous physical work, working in temperature extremes, working in noisy environments or being exposed to vibration.

The mining workplace is a very dynamic work environment. Although machine design and ergonomics in the Mining Industry affects women as well as men, a smaller built person will be more likely to experience problems in enduring these conditions. Infrastructure forms part of the barriers that exist when women are introduced in the Mining Industry as well as ablution facilities and change rooms, housing facilities, work-life balance and personal safety and security.

Mines are reluctant to train and place women in artisan and engineering positions, due to the physical nature of this work as well as the female employees’ unwillingness to establish themselves in these careers. Due to cultural differences and different thinking patterns, little or limited support from the male employees will be given to female employees when needed. This implies that not only should the infrastructure be changed due to the introduction of women into the Mining Industry but also change in team structures, interpersonal relationships and the sense of acceptability by fellow male employees and supervisory level.

The purpose of this study was to develop a model which an organisation can use to overcome and manage the barriers that were identified when women are introduced in core positions of the Mining Industry. As the problem statement is threefold, the model considers the three primary parties involved in the process of introducing women into the Mining Industry, namely the Organisation, Men and Women. In the model it is illustrated that these three parties function interdependently of each other. The primary concern of each of the parties is: The Organisation – cost implication; Men – paradigm shift; and Women – several barriers identified. The suggested solutions and focus areas for each of the parties are considered and/or implemented. The communication channels between these parties are a vast contributor to the success of this model. This is only the groundwork phase, phase one, of the process.

Phase Two of this model is that this snapshot of the threefold system, at any given time, should be monitored and re-evaluated in order for this change intervention to progress. After monitoring and re-evaluation took place a decision can be made with regards to continuing with the system or adapting the system. The role of the Human Resources department in this process will mainly be limited to that of a facilitating and advisory role. To achieve the targets set by the Mining Charter and legislation it is vital for Mining Houses to overcome and manage these barriers that exist when introducing women in the Mining Industry. Therefore applying and implementing the basic principles set out in the model of managing the barriers of introducing women in the Mining Industry is a practical way to ensure that Mining Houses deal effectively with these changes brought forward by legislation.

Copyright 2008, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Heine, A 2008, A model for managing the barriers of introducing women into a mining industry, MCom dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-02132012-110815 / >


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