Guest Post, originally published in The Globe and Mail Online
They may represent only 14 per cent of the total workforce, but women have the potential to make a big impact on Canada’s mining sector and are seen as an important source of the tens of thousands of skilled positions that will need to be filled over the next 10 years to keep the industry robust.
Aurizon currently has many women employed at its Casa Berardi mine, Val d’Or operations office and at its Vancouver corporate office in the areas of environment, geology, exploration, engineering, laboratory, human resources, purchasing, maintenance, global development, accounting and administration.
A study last year by the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR) and Women in Mining (WIM) Canada – and a portion of the research activities undertaken by the Conference Board of Canada – confirmed that Canada has a large pool of highly skilled, experienced women willing and able to participate in all levels of the mining and exploration sectors.
“The study was important in achieving a thorough understanding of the status of women in mining,” said MaryAnn Mihychuk, president of WIM Canada. “We now know not only how mining is perceived by women and the factors that influence staying in the profession, but also the gaps in understanding between employers and female employees.”
One of the issues identified in the study was lack of awareness among female students of the opportunities in mining and exploration.
“Only 10 per cent of female students were aware of the mining sector. Career tools like Explore for More are helping, but we need industry to reach out to students and collaborate with us to promote mining as a career of choice,” said Melanie Sturk, director of Attraction, Retention and Transition at MiHR.
Women in Mining Canada is also playing a key role in raising the profile of the industry among women. Using a mentoring network, and partnering with industry, governments and other stakeholders, WIM Canada focuses on research, advocacy and knowledge exchange among its members, branches and the international WIM network.
For its part, Aurizon Mines says it will continue its effort to encourage women in mining.
Originally published on The Globe and Mail Online on February 21, 2011
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