No free rides for women in mining – by Len Gillis (Timmins Daily Press – May 7, 2015)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – A woman with extensive mining engineering experience told an audience of Timmins business women on Thursday there are opportunities for more females in the mining industry. She said it is now up to women to seek out mining employment and go for it.

Sophie Bergeron, the underground manager at Hoyle Pond for Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines, has worked in mining in both Canada and South America. She was the keynote speaker at the Women in Business luncheon hosted by the Timmins Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.

Bergeron’s education as a mining engineer set her off on a journey to Xstrata’s Raglan mine in far Northern Quebec, where she took on a number of jobs because she said she asked for them.

Women are still in a minority in mining and while Bergeron said the numbers are gradually improving, she urged women to seek out the jobs they want and to aggressively ask for those roles. Bergeron said many of the jobs she has worked at came about because she specifically asked to do those jobs.

She explained that in all experience, she was never offered a job in mine production department.

“Every time I have been exposed to operations is because I asked for it,” she said. “My message to the women here is never hesitate to ask for what you want. I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t ask for what I wanted.”

Bergeron was a mine rescuer for three years in Quebec and was even on a competition team. She told the audience no one in the mining companies she worked for ever asked her if she wanted to join mine rescue. She said she had to ask. She was refused at first, but in time she took the training and she succeeded. It turns out she was the first mine rescue woman for her company to compete at the elevated provincial level.

She urged the women in the audience to be willing to at least try new things, as she did with the venture into mine rescue training. “If I don’t try, I am not going to know if I can do it or not,” she said.

On the personal level, Bergeron said she considered herself lucky to have had mentors – people to give her advice, guidance and direction in her career. But she admitted she added some of her own beliefs to the mix.
Several years ago, while taking part in a company survey, Bergeron said one of the questions asked her where she expected to be or what she would be doing in five years.

She said she had no fixed answer. She knew she had to write something down because in part, “I didn’t want to disappoint my mentor.” Bergeron, in her speech, never revealed what she wrote.

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