Narrowing the Gender Gap in the Mining Industry
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Narrowing the Gender Gap in the Mining Industry

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Antonio Gozain By Antonio Gozain | Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst - Wed, 01/26/2022 - 16:45

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The mining industry has been considered as a men-only sector for many years. Unfortunately, this reality has closed opportunities for women wanting to enter the industry. . While gender gap is still very far from ideal figures, promising sector developments have been made in terms of diversity and inclusion, agree industry experts.

“Mining has been stigmatized for years. Women deal with a lot of barriers and challenges that men usually do not face, and this is part of our strengths. We must promote women participation in the mining industry not only within the sector, but in society, at schools. It is crucial to communicate assertively, showing women’s great contribution in companies,” said Cynthia Villa, Partner, Founder & General Manager, Gruminex and GL Detect.

Prior to 2008, there were no women working in the mining industry. Nevertheless, that number has increased steadily since 2008. In 2020, that figure has risen to 16 percent, and this trend is expected to increase in the coming years, reported MBN.

“In 2020, 60,000 women participated in the Mexican mining industry, this represents 16 percent of the total workforce. Although this figure is far from being ideal, it is an important advancement for the sector,” said Fernando Alanís, Member of the Executive Committee at CAMIMEX and Director, Baluarte Minero.

Women’s participation in the mining industry is not balanced among various areas of organizations. While administrative and health departments shave a women participation of over 20 percent, board, director, manager and supervisor roles have a representation of under 13 percent, said Alanís. In addition, he said the  sector “does not only need to increase the participation of women, but must seek the right balance among organizations.”

In 2020, Karen Flores was appointed as Director General of the chamber, becoming the first woman to hold this position since CAMIMEX’s foundation in 1906.

“In 2018, 5,600 mining jobs were created and 3,800 of them were taken over by women. While CAMIMEX believes in talent more than in gender per se, diversity is a key value that we seek to promote. We expect women’s role in the industry to continue to grow in the coming years, not only in operational roles but also in managerial positions,” said Flores to MBN.

Salaries in the metallics mining sector are up to 73 percent higher than the national female average, while in the non-metallics is 26 percent higher, reported MBN. The wage gap between men and women is closing in as well. In the labor market, 45 percent of women are unionized within CAMIMEX, a 3 percent increase with respect to 2019.

Companies with the highest percentage of women in management tend to be more profitable, said Nancy Morales Arango, Business Development Manager Mexico, Ground Truth Exploration and President, SME Mexico. “Business competitiveness, environmental sustainability, corporate and industry culture is impacted by the representation of equality. Fostering inclusion values helps in increasing women participation.”

The mining industry has different pressures and it needs diverse backgrounds, perspectives and empathy to advance, said Jonathon Bell, Vice President, Dynapro Pumps Mexico.

“Women inclusion comes down to two aspects. The first one is education. To change the future, we have to start with our education system. For instance, in Canada only 12 percent of engineering students are women. We do not have enough women in those careers. Second, there is a huge gap in how we market and advertise the mining ecosystem. We are not doing enough to promote diversity. The whole mining ecosystem must work in collaboration.”

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) occupations have grown in by 79 percent in the US, going from 9.7 million to 17.3 million, according to the Pew Research Center. In Mexico, the need for STEM skills is key among all industries, with nearly 30 percent of Mexican employers declaring that they have difficulty finding workers in these fields, according to Vision STEM. Mexico has one of the biggest gender gaps, with only 8 percent of women choosing to work in STEM careers, compared to 27 percent of men, according to OECD. The country’s percentage of top-performing women in mathematics and science is among the lowest of all OECD countries.

While there is still a long road ahead toward gender equality in the mining industry, “it is important to acknowledge that change is happening,” said Jennifer Burge, CEO, WorldWise Coaching & Training LLC, adding that the sector “must work together to advance and create lasting change for women. Without it, mining will be left behind in the battle of talent.”

Photo by:   MBN

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