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Closing the Gender Gap in Canadian Mining: An Interdisciplinary Mixed Methods Study



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In response to societal pressures and a looming labour shortage, the Canadian mining industry has recently embarked on a journey to welcome gender diversity and inclusion in its male-dominated workforce. The purpose of this two-phase, transformative mixed-methods study was to understand how Canadian mining companies are working to close the gender gap in the industry. In the first phase of the study, a qualitative, rhetorical criticism-based methodology was used to analyze over 75 public documents from ten companies involved in Canadian mining, which represent approximately half of the Canadian mining sector employees (Mining Industry Human Resources, 2017). Rhetorical analysis applied theoretical approaches drawn from cluster, fantasy-theme, generative, and generic criticism (Foss, 2004); continuum analysis (Brummett, 2011); and consideration of the construction of a Second Persona (Black, 1970). Findings from the top-down analysis indicate that some individual mining companies are employing targeted strategies but ultimately companies are at different positions on their journey to create an industry that is reflective of the communities in which they operate. The bottom-up approach of the second phase, informed by the first phase outcomes, involved an anonymous online survey that was intended to capture perceptions and experiences of current and former workers in the Canadian mining industry. 540respondents completed the survey and responses were analyzed using statistical and rhetorical methods to distinguish differences and similarities. The respondents identified as men (n = 318) and women (n = 220) , and current (n = 459) and former (n = 81) mining workers. Second phase results showed a divide between the primarily positive messaging coming from the top of organizations and the needs of employees. Findings included a lack of open communication, a disconnect to the personal benefits of gender equity strategies, and flaws in the current discrimination and harassment reporting systems. The industry still has a long way to go to achieve gender equity; however, early signs of culture change are evident, and the goals of inclusion and diversity in the workforce have the potential to be achieved with a multi-fronted communication strategy that encourages shifting mindsets and behaviours.



Gender, equity, diversity, inclusion, mining, rhetoric, communication, culture change



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Interdisciplinary Studies


Interdisciplinary Studies


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