Women & Mines Worldwide Gallery
Home CornDEv WomenUK WomenWorld Link



Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional

Click on an image to enlarge. Use the BACK button on your browser to return to this page

Here are a few examples of women working in mines outside of the UK

One of the earliest records of females working in the mines comes from Diodorus, quoting Agartharchides, who describes Egyptian gold mines in the second century B.C. Slaves and captives were used as forced labour, both below ground and on the dressing floor. Agricola, writing about mining in central Europe in the sixteenth century, describes women and children involved in dressing operations as a matter of course.

Before European colonisation, it seems that women were often instigators of small surface mining operations in many cultures around the world. This was certainly true as far afield as Winsconsin, USA and Australia.

By the beginning of the eighteenth century, women and children were commonly recruited to work in mines across the world. For instance, females were on the pay lists of the silver mines in Peru and Mexico, the iron mines of Sweden, and self employed in the diamond fields of India.(See the Quotations Page)

In the 1840’s young Cornish girls and boys worked briefly at the copper mines in Glen Osmond in Australia. S T Gill's picture (courtesy of The National Library of Australia) shows a family working a gold claim in 1852. Although in the 19th century mining itself was considered very much ‘a man’s job’ a significant few women embarked on prospecting careers themselves. These included Ferminia Saras in Nevada (copper), Ellen Jack in Colorado (gold), and Bridget Goodwin in New Zealand (gold).

During the early twentieth century considerable numbers of older girls and women continued to be employed at the collieries in France, Belgium and Ukraine.

Chinese women streaming for tin in Malaysia are known as Dulang Women. They use shallow wooden bowls.

Women were also working at the mica mines in India.

Now, in the early 21st century international legislation outlaws child labour but it is believed that there are still thousands of children who undertake this work illegally and under appalling working conditions. For more information on please go to


Back to Top


© Webmaster Peter Boorman & Lynne Mayers 2006
About the website