Susan Lomas was working on a remote mining site in northern Ontario in the early 2000s, when the most “ridiculous” incident she faced as a woman in the industry began with a knock at the door.
A male colleague tried to force his way into the townhouse she was staying in and she rebuffed him.
“He was saying how he really liked me and how he really wanted to come in and hang out with me,” recalled Lomas, a geologist and founder of the Me Too Mining advocacy group. “I was married. My husband was back at home… He seemingly wasn’t going to be taking no for an answer.”
She spoke with a project manager and the man was told to “cut it out” and warned that he would be in “serious trouble” if the behaviour continued.
“I was so used to it,” she said. “I was always thinking…this is what I have got to deal with.”
In her first mining job, a handful of male colleagues started “wallpapering” her work area in pornography.
She kept taking the images down, only to find them pinned back up again.
“Then the guy came storming into my office and said: ‘if you ever touch these photos again, I am going to put your hands in the rock crusher’,” she said. “That was very scary.”
Lomas believes companies have a responsibility to take action because they often set the tone for their industries.
“I loved being a geologist for 30 years,” she said. “I have had incredible experiences and it is worthwhile to fight for.”