Original Research

Women in mining still exploited and sexually harassed

Doret Botha
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 14, No 1 | a753 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v14i1.753 | © 2016 Doret Botha | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 August 2015 | Published: 16 November 2016

About the author(s)

Doret Botha, School of Social and Government Studies, North-West University, South Africa


Orientation: Globally, women have become an essential part of the mining workforce. Among other jobs, they fulfil management positions, operate heavy machinery and are involved in artisanal mining processes. In South Africa, new mining legislation not only prohibits the exclusion of women but requires from companies to actively change the demographic profile of their workforce. Mining companies are obliged to also employ women in core mining activities. Although well intended, women appointed in core positions work side by side with men, often in isolation, and are frequently at risk of sexual abuse and/or harassment.

Research purpose: This research determined perceptions regarding the occurrence of sexual harassment among women working in core mining positions.

Motivation for the study: Currently, there is a paucity of published data on the occurrence of sexual harassment in the mining industry.

Method: A mixed-method research design was used including quantitative and qualitative research paradigms. Quantitative data were collected by means of a structured questionnaire. Qualitative data were collected by means of individual and group interviews.

Main findings: From the literature review and the empirical findings, it is evident that women are still exploited and sexually harassed in the mining industry. Incidents taking place on a daily basis vary from whistling; name calling; use of vulgar or derogatory language; display of body parts; physical contact, ranging from touching to sexual assault and rape; to the exchange of sexual favours for promotion.

Practical/managerial implications: It is evident from the research that a holistic approach is required to effectively eradicate sexual harassment in the mining industry, involving the commitment of relevant state departments, human resource managers and labour experts.

Contribution: Practical recommendations are made to effectively address sexual harassment in the mining industry.


core mining activities; sexual harassment; mining industry; women in mining


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