Gone are the days when women played a minimal role in the mining industry. They are now deservedly in higher positions, are respected and have the necessary experience in this male-dominated sector. However, there are still obstacles that they believe need to be addressed.
The promotion of women in the mining industry has been hailed as a bold and progressive step in a sector where gender stereotypes are still prevalent. This passionate mother of four, Teboga Mosita, a HR consultant by profession, quit her regular job to take up mining.
Not as an employee, but as an entrepreneur. She soon qualified as a steel engineer. She later founded a women-owned metallurgy and mining company. Now her company employs more than 50 people.
42-year-old Mosita does not agree to small things, but goes for big projects in the sector. These include, but are not limited to, boiler manufacturing, mechanical installation, pipe installation and civil engineering.
“I consider myself a successful person because when I started my business, I started with a zero balance sheet, but today, as a female entrepreneur, I also understand the financial health of my business and can invest in assets that help the business grow, unlike how I started I didn’t know how to grow this business. I persevered. I went through so many problems. I understand. I learned through my failures,” says Mosita.
That’s what she answered to the question about difficulties in the performance of official duties.
“I have been in the business for ten years. I’m able to do some big projects, but we’re always required to do joint ventures with other big companies that don’t even want to give us an equal share or just give us the opportunity to get more skills so we can be independent. So, as women, it really frustrates us that we always have to be subcontracted.
Not far from her office, we met three female managers at one of the Impala Platinum plants. After many years of service, they are now in top management at the mine.
“Part of my responsibilities also includes that, from a woman’s perspective, we look after those who are behind to prepare them for success in the future when there are possible jobs or roles,” Hub Manager, Skhumbuza Nokwane.
“If you look at my journey from when I started as a consultant, registrar and manager of social affairs to today as the head of the department, it is clear that women are capable. Obviously, women are making it in the industry. And it’s clear that women have the ability to perform what have been called male-dominated functions in the past,” says Head of Stakeholder Engagement Tina Malau.
These pioneering women must find a balance between work and personal life.
“Now I wear different hats; I’m wearing a mine manager’s hat. I’m at work. I also wear another hat where I am someone’s sister. I am someone’s partner. I am a member of the community and all these hats require my 100% attention. So, I’m very careful about what I do throughout the day, throughout the month, to make sure I don’t stop in any area of my life,” mine manager Nonkululeka Mabuza.
Although they have made inroads into the sector, gender stereotypes persist and the general message is ‘get over it’.