Women in construction, mining still face discrimination

Cape Town – Men working in the male-dominated mining and construction sectors continue to use abusive and discriminatory language against their female colleagues, research released by the Sam Tambani Research Institute (Satri) on Monday showed.

Satri, founded by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Mineworkers Investment Trust (MIT), released a a book on survey findings on challenges facing women at the workplace in the mining, energy and construction sectors of South Africa.

Satri researcher Pulane Mafoea, who led the survey, remarked: “Supervisors prefer to work with men because men are seen to be stronger and faster for production. Women feel that their managers are not supportive of them. The policies at work are not women friendly.”

The survey was Satri’s first field research project and was aimed at collecting factual information to guide future interventions and increase the number of women gainfully employed in the mining, construction, and energy sectors. An important finding from the national survey was that career progress was the major challenge faced by women in the workplace, across three sectors, irrespective of the region.

Formed in 2012, Satri’s main objectives were to conduct research on the primary issues affecting the welfare of workers and their communities in mining, energy and construction and inform policies and interventions aimed at ensuring their protection.

The institute is named after Sam Tambani, who was a chairperson of the National Education Sub-committee of NUM, a political activist, and a community leader. Tambani was killed in 1993 at the Protea Police Station in Soweto while leading a peaceful demonstration against the assassination of former South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani.

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