Women in the mining sector: the value of female inclusion in the industry
There are various strategies to help increase female participation in the mining sector.
The numbers of women in the mining industry has grown exponentially in recent years.
The mining industry has traditionally been a male industry. However, in recent years there has been a concentrated effort to get more women into the industry.
Although there have been some successes, it is still a big challenge to encourage women to join the mining industry. In this blog, we will look at why this goal is so important and what can be done to make it easier for women to work in mining.
Why is it important for women to work in this sector?
There are several reasons why mining companies want to attract more women. First, there is a growing demand for skilled labor in the industry and so encouraging people from all genders and walks of life to join the sector can help meet this demand.
In addition, diversity brings benefits such as team building and balance between different jobs. Women are able to bring different ideas to the table, new approaches and certain unique values.
Although the figures for participation in mining are not very high (in Australia, the female workforce has reached 18%, in Spain approximately 8%, in Canada around 15%, while in Chile 7.5%), the truth is that these percentages are rising exponentially.
Proof of this is the case of Mexico: In 2008 the participation of women in the industry was 0%, by 2021 that percentage has reached 16%.
According to several studies, greater gender equality in the workforce can bring great benefits for companies. In the UK, they found that mining companies with greater gender equality are 49% more cost-effective and 83% more innovative than their all-male counterparts. It is worth mentioning that in the United Kingdom, gender equality overall is at around 73%.
But what does gender equality mean? It is the existence of equal opportunities and rights for both women and men, both in the public and private sectors.
Therefore, the inclusion of more women in the sector is key in terms of competitiveness, as it improves profitability levels, which is essential in times of economic recovery. A higher incorporation of women in the labor market favors the growth and stability of societies.
Reasons for the lack of women’s participation in the mining industry
The wage gap – the problem of the so-called wage gap. This term is defined as the difference in average gross hourly earnings between women and men. In this sense, it is necessary to take into consideration the different variables that cause this phenomenon. There are fewer women working – and the jobs in which women are concentrated are less well paid – among other reasons.
This gap is 17.3% in the United Kingdom, 19.5% in Spain and Estonia has the highest wage gap in Europe, at 22.7%.
Another reason why there is less female presence in mining, according to several studies, is that maternity rights are not fully defined by law, and on some occasions there have even been unfair dismissals related to this issue.
The nature of the working hours in mining operations, which are divided into shifts, does not make it easy to combine work with personal life, much less with household chores, parenting or those types of care that are traditionally associated with women.
This explains why not only entry into the mining industry is complicated for women, but also their permanence and weak professional career development within the industry. In fact, the percentage of women in positions of control or power is not very high, although it is true that they have gradually increased their presence.
Most of the women who are employed in the mining sector work in the office, and few work in the field, in areas of operations, maintenance, amongst other areas, due to the physical nature of this job.
Possible solutions for change
Although there are some difficulties, it is entirely possible to promote the incorporation of women in mining. The key is the development and implementation of different actions that contribute to equality policies and eliminate discriminatory practices. Many companies in the sector are choosing to be more egalitarian every day.
In order to increase the number of women in the industry, different practices can be carried out, such as, for example, setting a goal of percentage of incorporation that is accompanied by training and hiring programs for women.
Also, giving talks to women in educational centers or universities in order to raise awareness of the industry and encourage them to choose careers related to mining.
By increasing the presence of women in the mining industry, we can create workplaces with diversity and where all workers can feel safe. It sends an important message that regardless of your gender or position in the company, you will be respected equally.
In addition, it is a good idea is to try to reconcile family and work. To this end, flexible work alternatives could be proposed with schedules that favor women. They would then begin to see mining as a much more accessible and attractive sector.
Along the same lines, it is advisable to establish measures and certain benefits that facilitate the reconciliation of parental rights. For example, help with post-natal integration.
It is also necessary to establish a culture of non-discrimination, where sexual harassment and discrimination are prevented. To this end, policies could be tightened, and workshops for employees and good practice manuals can be created.
As we mentioned, it would be pertinent to conduct an analysis to find out why such a pay gap exists in the sector and try to find a solution or devise ways to improve the situation.
Another good option would be to adopt different measures and policies to promote female participation in these sectors and reduce the discriminatory behaviors that exist towards women. The international community has the potential to address this issue, and the concentrated effort of all stakeholders is essential to move forward.
Equality in mining is a complex issue that requires a global and multidisciplinary approach, but the truth is that we are on the right track and proof of this is the increasing incorporation of women into the industry.