Some women stay silent and endure unwelcome situations, others quit the industry
The crass, sexist attitudes that lead to a camera being planted in the women’s washroom of the Ekati diamond mine don’t surprise some women with experience working in the mining industry. On July 27, a camera hidden in the women’s washroom of the mine was brought to a camp administrator’s office for safe-keeping until security could arrive. But by the time they got there it was missing.
Ekati is about 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife. Workers live at the mine, typically working shifts of two weeks on and two weeks off. RCMP and mine security are still investigating the camera incident, but two women with experience in the industry say the conditions that make an episode like this possible are all too common.
Kari Lentowicz worked at a mine in Saskatchewan for more than 12 years before she said she couldn’t take it anymore. “It was just a hard environment to work in,” said Lentowicz. “The men far outnumber the women and as far as mining goes, they really hardwire that gender disparity in there, into their camps.”
Demeaning comments, hard to complain
Lentowicz said that even the camp’s infrastructure reflected the inequality between men and women: her camp had 40 lockers for women and 400 for men. When she complained about the disparity, she was told that there would never be that many women at the mine site.
“That mindset really puts women back,” she said. But she saw the biggest problems with her peers. Some men would only greet her by saying “hey gorgeous,” which she found demeaning.
Lentowicz said lodging a complaint would put women at a risk of losing opportunities, because it strained necessary work relationships. She’s had multiple issues with men making her uncomfortable in the workplace. Including one occasion where a man said “stripper’s here” about Lentowicz as she walked by.
For the rest of this article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/mining-industry-sexism-1.4247363