I wish I'd known what to do when...Reflections on a sexual harassment workshop for women engineers
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Western Australia has experienced extraordinary growth as a result of its minerals boom. Despite the growth in the minerals sector women, many of whom have formal qualifications, comprise just 18 percent of those employed in this sector (Minerals Council of Australia and Australian Government Office for Women 2007). There have been a number of initiatives to improve attraction and retention rates of women in the resources sector. However women remain under represented and underutilized and subject to harassment and discrimination (Minerals Council of Australia and Australian Government Office for Women 2007). Late in 2009 a workshop on sexual harassment was run for a group of women engineers with an emphasis on strategies for resolving sexual harassment at the local level rather thanthrough formal complaint mechanisms. The workshop was the fasted filling of any workshop offered by the organisation in 2009.This paper suggests the need for new approaches to addressing issues of sexual harassment if women’s continued under representation in a sector that has the need for labour and in particular skilled labour is to be addressed. The approach taken in the workshop is outlined, as are some issues that were raised and some of the implications for organisations are discussed. It makes a contribution to this track through the sharing of the women’s stories of their experiences within gendered organisational cultures and the pre-eminence of hegemonic masculinity of organisations many of which operate globally and thus potentially export their culture as well as the resources.
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