Patriarchy is still at work in the mining industry. According to studies carried out by universities and dedicated NGOs, the mining discourse that is officially presented to us leaves aside the discrimination that affects women miners, ranging from when they decide what to study, to the possibility of accessing decision-making positions, and which includes, despite recent laws, high rates of sexual harassment.
This patriarchal model continues to place obstacles in the way of women in the national mining industry, not allowing them to participate and not creating spaces in positions of power, maintaining the concentration of power in male hands and the perpetuation of extemporaneous roles such as the low consideration of the abilities of a human being regardless of gender.
We observe such an impossibility to emerge and access positions of greater responsibility and power in the industry, in which reasons of family care, the working day system, gender discrimination, and the devaluation of women’s skills continue to be argued. The fallacies remain, and are responsible for this immobility, based on stereotypes and outdated myths, which nevertheless continue to affect women’s inclusion.
There is still no relevant inclusion, which marks at least two important issues for our society, firstly, the failure to advance towards gender parity and secondly, the opportunity for national economic growth (GDP) is lost by leaving out the largest workforce in the country, which is precisely women.
Thus, women are discriminated against by their peers on the basis of their gender. Their professional abilities are called into question. This leads women to adopt “masculine” behaviours, in order to be validated by men.
Despite recent laws that seek to resolve this conflict, the percentages reported by women miners continue to be high in terms of sexual harassment, causing women to drop out of the mining industry due to aggressive work environments where sexual and workplace harassment is still allowed.
Figures from studies show that female participation in the mining industry in the country is between 8 and 9%, in contrast to Canada and Australia, which are around 19.6% and 13.2% respectively. Furthermore, if we break down that 8%, only 9.4% of women in the industry are in positions where decision-making is allowed, such as directorships, management, sub-management, superintendencies and leadership positions.
As the researchers explain to us, the social division of labour, where a few are employers and a few thousand are subordinates, is the current functioning structure of the market. However, there is a much older phenomenon, predating capitalist societies, which determines gender roles and consequently women’s entry into the ambit of work, the sexual division of labour. Women are assigned to unpaid reproductive work – while men are developed in the productive ambit, in the public space.
In these spaces historically assigned to men, thousands of women have had to deal with the machismo and discrimination of a patriarchal society in order to gain access to what is rightfully theirs. The general momentum of this era of change in Chile will have to be confirmed in each particular ambit, where the State will play an important role in implementing what feminist struggles have installed in our society.
Collaborative writing by Angelica Alvear, Guillermo Garcés, César Anguita and Gladys Mendoza. Political Commission.