Internationally, the involvement of women working underground is a relatively new phenomenon. In the past the mining industry was a male-dominated working environment and it is currently still the case. In South Africa, women were recently allowed to work in the underground mines. However, mining companies seem to find it difficult to meet the needs of women in the underground mine. The challenges relate to a domain historically dominated by men. The mining industry is characterised by hard labour and it is expected that women would experience working underground differently from men. The challenges of women and men are different and their coping mechanisms are not the same.
The research study aims to investigate how women cope under the challenging occupational and labour culture, and health and physical demands inherent to this type of work. By means of the non-probability sampling method, ten (10) women were purposively selected. The research approach in this study is the qualitative approach.
Researchers that use a qualitative research approach are primarily interested in the meaning the subjects give to their life experiences. The researcher made use of the collective case study design to gain insight into the coping mechanisms of women in the mining industry. Semi-structured, one-on-one interviews were conducted as the primary data collection method.
The findings of this study illustrate that women in the mining industry experience challenges with regard to labour, health, occupational challenges, work-life balance, sanitation facilities and sexual harassment. However, the said women use different mechanisms to cope with the challenges they face on a daily basis. The research results call for the mining industry management to devise ways to meet the needs of women and offer support in response to their daily challenges.
Mini Dissertation (MSW)--University of Pretoria, 2016.