28 Dec “It is not enough just to hire women to meet quotas”
This is confirmed by Romina Araya, founder and general director of the University Meeting of Women in Mining, an organization that seeks to strengthen the participation of women in a sector where only 8% of the workforce is female. The professional states that companies must commit to the inclusion and diversity of their teams, beyond the hiring of a certain number of female workers.
Romina Araya is a Metallurgical Civil Engineer with Master in Engineering, specialized in Mining and Environment. She leads the University Meeting of Women in Mining initiative, an organization led by the Mining Departments of the Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Universidad de Chile and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, which seeks to make visible the contribution of women in mining, strengthen female leadership, expand contact networks and raise the challenges of the mining industry around public policies with a gender focus.
We talk with the professional regarding the challenges of female inclusion in mining, the importance of diversifying human capital and the measures that should be taken in pursuit of this objective.
What are your goals?
We have considered transcending to promote changes that allow men and women to develop freely and on equal terms in the mining industry. Diversifying human capital is key to addressing the challenges of productivity, innovation, and sustainability, where eradicating gender inequality becomes an indispensable and fundamental condition for achieving a Chile that is the engine of development, and economic and social growth. This invites us to believe in the relevance and strategic impact of the mining sector as a platform for the development of equality policies that can migrate to other sectors of the national economy.
What is the importance of the inclusion of women in the mining world?
Women and men are the main resources in the entire value chain of industries. In recent years, studies have shown that having heterogeneous and more inclusive groups raise productivity and a positive impact on teamwork is observed. For this, it is essential that in areas where before there were no spaces for women today they are used by them. We believe that there is still much to develop, to enhance; giving more spaces for leadership is the main focus with which mining companies should commit themselves today, provide spaces for trust and professional development.
In Chile, only 8% of workers in mining are women. What measures should be taken to increase significantly this percentage?
If we put ourselves in the context of mining companies, at present BHP proposes that by 2025 the female staff will be 50% of the total number of workers. Codelco wishes to certify all its divisions in the NCH 3262 of Gender Equality and Work Life, Personal and Family Conciliation. Antofagasta Minerals is promoting greater diversity and inclusion in their divisions.
It is understood that companies have a commitment. This should be practiced every day to achieve the goals of each, but it must be clear that it is not enough just to hire women to meet quotas, but that their integration into the industry must be made sustainable. It is clear that spaces of trust and professional development benefit us in a certain way. Generating opportunities is one of the significant measures to achieve leadership positions.
What are the main challenges that women face as students and then as mining professionals?
Women, when entering mining careers, for the most part, must face a masculinized environment. Although it is true that lately, the number of women who decide to study this type of careers has increased, the percentage difference between female and male students is still noticeable. The main challenges are to promote leadership among our peers and continue to inspire us with the career we choose for our professional development.
Later, when entering the working world, women continue to deal with a sexist environment. In addition, it is observed the lack of opportunities in the industry, having to choose in some companies between professional development and motherhood. Other unfavorable conditions that exist today are wage gaps and inadequate clothing to perform their work in the field. Therefore, it is essential to continue educating everyone about gender equality and the importance and benefits generated by heterogeneous teams, promoting healthy environments and respect in all areas.