More and more women are becoming trailblazers in their chosen industries across the globe, and the mining sector is not being left behind, especially in South Africa. In recent years, more and more powerful women have begun entering a historically male-dominated industry where they are achieving phenomenal success, despite the challenges they face because of their gender. WiMSA is an organisation that was founded with the goal of helping women in the South African mining sector and young females interested in a future in this industry to progress through empowerment, inspiration and support.
Launched in 2010, WiMSA is a non-profit organisation that provides a free platform for females in South African mining. WiMSA provides support and guidance to women with the goal of helping them to achieve personal growth and professional success. Through various initiatives, the organisation offers assistance with career and leadership development. Over 2,000 women have become members of WiMSA and enjoy unparalleled support through:
The mining industry in South Africa is committed to transformation. But in a country that is undergoing a drastic transformation, the industry is constantly challenged to deliver on its objectives. While the representation of females in mining has significantly improved over the years, the percentage of women employed in the industry is still considerably lower than that of men. Even after laws forbidding women to work underground were done away with and more women were able to enter the industry, many still feel that it is an industry in which they do not have good career prospects.
Another stark reality is that women are still at risk of harassment and worse in the workplace, especially in a male-dominated industry like mining. Organisations like WiMSA are fighting to transform the industry on all levels and to ensure that female employees are not only safe but also enjoy the same opportunities and treatment as their male counterparts.
In male-dominated working environments, women usually have to work harder than men to achieve promotions and increases in pay. Women in senior roles often have more qualifications than their male colleagues at the same level. By acquiring appropriate career and development guidance, women in the mining industry are better able to develop the required hard skills appropriate to their roles as well as soft skills required to navigate the industry, like confidence, assertiveness and self-esteem. WiMSA believes in taking a holistic approach to aiding women in the mining industry. The organisation’s aim is to help create a culture that supports diversity and advancement and rejects any form of gender bias through skills development.
WiMSA has a strong focus on youth guidance. The organisation assists young females by identifying companies that offer internships and distributing information on what is available to young graduates. Events are arranged where young women can get together to learn how to network and meet likeminded individuals. WiMSA also offers career guidance for female scholars and students who have enrolled in tertiary education in geosciences.
Through Mentor’s Manor, the WiMSA mentorship program, the organisation arranges mentoring partnerships locally and abroad. Partnerships are initiated through informal events held several times a year during which potential mentees are given the opportunity to meet and develop relationships with some of the leading mentors in the mining industry. By exploring the WiMSA blog, young women aspiring to careers in the mining sector can gain valuable insights through reading about women who are experienced in the industry and their achievements.
The continued success of the initiatives at WiMSA is only possible through the generous backing and support of its donors and patrons. They include some of the top women in South African mining: