Ana Maria Gonzalez
President
WIM Mexico
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Impact of Women in Mining Grows

By Paloma Duran | Fri, 09/03/2021 - 13:38

Q: What is WIM looking to achieve in the mining industry?

A: Our contribution to the mining industry is to show what women can do in the sector, since women can do as much as anyone else. Therefore, we promote women’s roles, their contribution and all the benefits that are obtained when there is a more equitable work environment.

When I started working at the mining industry in 1992, it was not common to see women in the industry. Only 2 percent of workers in the sector were women. Thanks to our constant promotion, that number has increased to 16 percent and we now see women taking on many jobs, playing an active role as drivers, engineers and CEOs. We have seen, especially in the last five years, that women feel more secure and confident regarding their role in mining and the contribution they can make. They feel very motivated because mining is among the industries that greatly promotes gender equality.

Q: What are the main barriers that women face in Mexico’s mining sector?

A: The biggest challenge we face is our macho culture, where it is thought that only men can perform certain jobs or tasks. This has made it difficult for women to imagine themselves in a hostile environment such as mining. It is also thought that men should be in charge, not women, and this has made it difficult for women to occupy or even aspire to higher positions. We have to change this mentality, especially in men, so that they understand that women can perform their tasks as well as men. This is a complicated challenge because it is difficult to help men adapt and help them see that this is not a competition between women and men but an alliance, where both genders can work together and complement each other.

Another challenge has been to convince women of their abilities. WIM is working to show women that they can do all kinds of jobs and have and pursue professional development within mining. Our goal is to have an industry that is completely egalitarian.

Q: What progress has been made toward the inclusion of women in mining?

A: Mexico has made progress. Today companies employ more women because they understand that women can contribute as much as men. There are also women who now hold high managerial positions in Mexico and we are very happy to see that every year more women are incorporated into the sector. However, one of the problems we see is that when women occupy higher positions, for instance, as a country manager, some men do not follow their orders because many doubt a woman’s ability to do the work.

To understand how the entire industry is improving conditions for women, we collect data and monitor the progress of our members. This allows us to identify problems and to help provide a solution. There are still some factors that could be improved but I think making women feel more accepted and welcomed in a male-dominated industry has been a great success.

 Q:What do you think it still needed to improve equity in the industry?

A:  It will be answered when it is sent to the client. We need to improve the participation of young girls in the sector, improve their participation in STEM education so they can increase women in the more technical areas.  As organization we are trying to improve the registration of the students to our organization and motivate them to participate in this sector.

Q: How has the progress of increasing and strengthening the participation of women in mining been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: It will be answered when it is sent to the client. On the contrary of what we thought, it has helped to show that a lot of work can be done from home and many women had the opportunity to spend more time at their places with their family.  All the communications via internet has made easier the home-office work, having a good way to communicate often with partners.

Q: In your opinion, between the government and the mining companies, who do you think has the most significant impact on creating a more inclusive industry?

A: Definitely the mining companies, offering more opportunities to women participation.

Q: What are the next steps the industry should take to continue advancing in the inclusion of women in mining?

A: All key actors such as educational staff, mining companies, suppliers and government need to work together to offer more opportunities to women and having those women prepared to take those opportunities.

Q: How do you think the Mexican mining industry will progress in the coming years regarding gender equality?

A: I believe the mining industry will continue to improve its policies as well as the working environment for women. We will continue to be a key partner for the industry and the government to achieve a more inclusive sector.  For this year, we will work closely with mining companies and CAMIMEX to attract more women to the sector and improve their working conditions. There is a long way to go, but there is no doubt that we will achieve a more equitable industry.

Women in Mining (WIM) Mexico is a nongovernmental organization that promotes initiatives that advocate equal opportunities and working conditions for women in the Mexican mining industry.

Paloma Duran Paloma Duran Junior Journalist and Industry Analyst