Ana Laura Muñoz Enriquez
Director
RAMA Mantenimiento Industrial Total SA de CV

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Gender Indicators in the Mining Sector

By Ana Laura Muñoz | Tue, 07/05/2022 - 09:00

The participation of women in the mining sector has continued to grow in recent years; however, in 2020, because of the pandemic and despite the efforts of mining companies to maintain the number of jobs, the percentage of women in the sector remained at 15.7 percent. As in other sectors, working women faced the challenge of having to adapt and, in many cases, leave their jobs to organize all the roles they play in addition to that of a worker; that is, to fulfill the needs of the home, childcare and the elderly, among others.  

Although the pandemic is not over, workplaces in Mexico have returned for the most part to their previous normality, so we must continue working so that women in the sector have equal working conditions that favor the integration between life and work.

The Instituto Mexicano para la Competitividad, A.C. (IMCO) conducted a study on working conditions for women, called Estudio Estados #ConLupaDeGénero 2022. In this study, they found, among other relevant data, that at the national level, women dedicate 72.3 percent more hours than men to unpaid work, that in 44 percent of Mexico’s states, the percentage of women who want to work but cannot exceeds 31 percent, that early childhood education coverage is limited to covering less than 50 percent of children from 0 to 5 years old,  and that in all states, less than 50 percent of women aged 30 and over have an educational level equal to or greater than higher education. This study may well serve as a basis for developing indicators that can help us better understand the current challenges that women face to enter, stay and grow in the mining sector. For each one of these stages, IMCO considers some indicators that we can well apply to the mining sector so that the government, companies and society can better promote the participation of women in the industry. 

On the subject of entry into the labor sector, the indicators to be considered are Prepared Women, Teenage Pregnancy (under 20 years old), inequality in unpaid work, perception of insecurity in transport, and women who want to work and cannot. In this sense, according to McKinsey’s 2019 Women in the Workplace study, four out of 10 women who graduate from a STEM career venture into the job market.

As for the factors that support permanence, IMCO contemplates the gender wage gap, long working hours, informality, early childhood education coverage, the offer of care for older adults, labor equality and non-discrimination, and paternity leave. According to the 2021 CAMIMEX Sustainability Report, the wage gap in the sector is the national average of 12 percent. The long working day is another important and complicated issue in the sector. The long distances that in the vast majority of cases must be traveled imply that workers must stay within the mining facilities for several days at a time, taking the corresponding rest days later. This is where issues such as motherhood and the care of elderly or sick adults arise and need to be resolved. It is these situations that often force women to quit their jobs. Here, a great effort must be made by companies and other women through associations to ensure that women can continue with their labor participation through the creation of a support network. In this area, it is also important to have the participation of the government through actions to ensure that women can count on support to cover needs like early childhood education and the provision of care for the elderly. 

Regarding growth, the indicators proposed by IMCO relate to legislators, mayors, women leaders of state institutions, entrepreneurs, and higher education. We can interpret this as the participation of women in managerial and decision-making positions. The CAMIMEX report indicates that in 2020, there was an increase in the participation of women in management positions, from 4 percent to 6 percent, while representation on boards of directors is 13 percent. 

Let us remember that what is not measured cannot be controlled or improved. That is why it is important to continue with the work of obtaining indicators that help us determine the best actions to take together to increase the participation of women in the mining sector.