Mining Women pp 280-295 | Cite as

Women into Mining Jobs at Inco: Challenging the Gender Division of Labor

  • Jennifer Keck
  • Mary Powell


In 1974 Sue Benoit was a single mother with a five-year-old daughter living in Levack, a small mining community outside Sudbury, Ontario. After leaving an abusive marriage she was living with her parents and working as a cashier at the local grocery store. She worked long hours for low pay: “That was rough because the total pay to take home was seventy dollars a week and I had to pay $25 for the babysitter and $25 for rent. You’d have to be there at eight and the store didn’t close until six and then you’d usually have to balance the tills … by the time you got home it was seven o’clock. It was hard, really hard with a baby.” When she heard that Inco was hiring women for the blue-collar jobs at the Levack mill for the first time since World War II, “it was just like heaven.”


Nickel Dust Income Milling Carbonyl 
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  1. 6.
    Employment figures are based on the company’s annual reports. See also Jennifer Keck and Mary Powell, “Working at Inco: Women in a Downsizing Male Industry,” in Changing Lives: Women in Northern Ontario, ed., Marg Kechnie and Marge Reitsma-Street (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1996), 147–161, and Dieter Buse, “The 1970s,” in Sudbury Kail Town to Regional Capital, ed., Carl Wallace and Ashley Thompson (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1993), 242–274.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    Barbara Cameron, “From Equal Opportunity to Symbolic Equity: Three Decades of Federal Training Policy for Women,” in Rethinking Restructuring: Gender and Change in Canada, ed., Isa Bakker, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996), 55–81.Google Scholar
  3. 13.
    Meg Luxton and June Corman, “Getting to Work: The Challenge of the Women Back into Stelco Campaign,” Labour/le Travail 28 (Fall 1991): 149–185; Cynthia Cockburn, Brothers: Male Dominance and Technological Change (London: Pluto Press, 1983); Paul Willis, “Shop Floor Culture, Masculinity and Wage Form,” in Working Class Culture: Studies in History and Theory, ed. J. Clarke et al. (London: Hutchison, 1979), 185–198.Google Scholar
  4. 14.
    See the special issue of the Labour History Review 69, no. 2 (August 2004), which explores “key features of working-class masculinities … in the twentieth century,” 129. See also Marat Moore, Women in the Mine: Stories of Life and Work (New York: Prentice Hall, 1996).Google Scholar
  5. 16.
    Meg Luxton and June Corman make similar observations in their study of workers at Stelco. See Getting by in Hard Times: Gendered Labour at Home and on the Job (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Jaclyn J. Gier and Laurie Mercier 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Keck
  • Mary Powell

There are no affiliations available

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