Women in Mining

Women in Mining

Mining is an industry which has always been male-dominated, regardless of geographical location. There have been positive steps which have helped to integrate women into the industry, but females continue to be under-represented and mining is still largely a man’s domain. Mining has been and still is, a predominantly male-dominated profession. Women, however, have been a part of the industry for over a century. Here are some interesting facts:

  • During the 100 years from 1898 to 1998, over two thousand women graduated from the Colorado School of Mines, a very well thought of and reputable institution.
  • In its first 75 years in existence, the Colorado School of Mines had four Women graduate:
  1. Florence Caldwell Jones C.E. (Civil Engineer) 1898
  2. Grace Mc Dermot Mulligan, E.M. (Engineer of Mines) 1903
  3. Ninetta Davis E.M. (Engineer of Mines) 1920
  4. Jacquelyn Borthick Kircher P.R.E. (Petroleum Refining Engineer) 1949
  • It has only been in the last 10+ years that women have gained the same rights to perform job functions that men do in some countries.  In South Africa, it was technically illegal for women miners to go into underground mines and it was only in 1986, that women miners in Western Australia were permitted underground.
  • Women make up approximately 13% of the industry workforce.
  • In an industry where 128,000 skilled workers will be needed to replace those retiring (it is estimated more than half the workforce will retire by 2029), women will be key to filling many of these roles.
  • Penny Stewart was the first female Mining Engineering Professor at the University of Queensland, Australia – in 2010!
  • In 1972, Colorado, Wyoming and many other states still had laws on the books expressly prohibiting women from working underground.
  • 1978 saw the last laws banning women from working underground disappear, being repealed in several class action lawsuits and as more companies were being pressured to hire more women.
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers in collaboration with Women in Mining (UK), ‘Mining for Talent 2014,’ published that mining ranks dead last among global industries when it comes to women in leadership positions.
  • In 2014, only seven CEOs in the world’s top 500 listed mining companies were female.


The landscape of mining has changed greatly in the last 40 years for women. Where will they be in the next 40 years? Do you know a woman miner? Share and give her a shout out!


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