By Ashley Staab
Mining has touched many of our lives. For some, it’s because our families and friends were employed by one of the many mines in the area and for others it’s because it has boosted our local economy. As someone who is not from northern Nevada originally, this industry was like opening a door into a new world. I’ve talked to many women who’ve worked in the mining industry and our stories are vaguely similar. Whether we got into our prospective fields because of a family member or a friend recommended it or just because we needed to provide for our families, our lives are forever changed by mining.
As I’ve talked to people through the past several years, there is a common misconception that men are the miners and the women stay at home, hours away taking care of the family and waiting for their husband to come home. The reality is there are women in all aspects of the mining industry. The staffing agency I’m privileged to work for, Manpower, has nine offices across northern Nevada and we’ve worked with mines in at least five of those areas. We’ve placed women in positions ranging from electrical, instrumentation, lab, haul truck, administration, maintenance, geology and so much more. There are several mines that hire students during the summer to further their education and we have partnered with them to help bring a diverse group of students every summer.
Across the industry, the same response rings out to my question, “What are the best things about this job?” People love the comradery with other miners and the beauty of Nevada. Few occupations get to see the landscape of Nevada the way that they do. When asked, “What is the worst thing about this job?” The answers are the long shifts combined with the length of time necessary to get to the mine site and back home. Many of the miners have made sacrifices that most of us will never understand. They leave hours before their shift and arrive home just in time to get some rest and do it all over again for days on end. While on shift, they are operating equipment that leaves us stunned when we see it in real life. They operate underground, they handle material we only dream of and they help grow the economy of northern Nevada.
As the economy fluctuates, so does the mining industry. Manpower’s main source of business in the Elko and Winnemucca territory is the mines. We are thankful to be a part of this industry and how it has been an integral part of Nevada’s countryside and economic stability. Several of the women who were interviewed for this article noted that in the next 5-10 years, we can expect to see more growth in automated processes and safety will continue to increase with that automation. We look forward to this growth and for how it will continue to grow northern Nevada.
In northern Nevada, the Manpower franchise has been owned and operated by the same family for three generations since 1979.