The Act That Shaped the Gender of Industrial Mining: Unintended Impacts of the British Mines Act of 1842 on Women’s Status in the Industry

Citation:

Lahiri-Dutt, Kuntala. 2020. “The Act That Shaped the Gender of Industrial Mining: Unintended Impacts of the British Mines Act of 1842 on Women’s Status in the Industry.” The Extractive Industries and Society 7 (2): 389–97. 

Author: Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt

Abstract:

In the 19th century, public outrage over poor working conditions of children in underground coal mines in the UK led to the enactment of the Mines and Collieries Act 1842. It prohibited boys under the age of ten and all females from laboring in underground mines. This Act wiped out the long and impressive history of women’s labor in the mining industry, and pushed women into more insecure areas of work. Later, during the 1920s and 1930s, this Act became the model for the International Labour Organization (ILO) to adopt protective legislation around women’s labor in the mining industry. Although unintended, the Act established ideals for decent work for women as per the Victorian norm and eventually led to the contemporary global context of hypermasculinity of the mining industry. The paper shows how women’s labor in mines—within a strict sex-based division of tasks—was, and remains, subject to gender ideologies that are not only propagated at home, but assume an authoritative position when adopted by the state.

Keywords: gender in mining, women in mining, protective legislation, British Mines Act, women's labor in mining, ILO and women's mining

Topics: Extractive Industries, Gender, Gender Roles, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Masculinism Regions: Europe, Northern Europe Countries: United Kingdom

Year: 2020

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