By Cristina Avila-Zesatti
Friday, April 15, 2011
A male labor shortage in Mexico has opened the door for more women to join the country's mining industry. Despite widespread superstitions deterring women from entering mining, one industry official says their inclusion has been a total success.
Women's traditional exclusion from the industry in Mexico was supported by a widespread superstition that said the land refused to deliver its treasures to women, and if any woman dared to enter the mine, it would become jealous and close, causing cave-ins and hiding its wealth.
"I always listened to the saying that if a woman entered, the mine closed," Solis says.
Almazan says that Mexico is not the only country that has welcomed women into the mining industry but that it is one of the pioneers.
"Without a doubt Mexico has been the spearhead for the inclusion of the women in the mining industry," Almazan says.
And Almazan says the women have proved themselves.
"The inclusion of the women in the mining industry has been a total success – a true discovery for an industry that was 100 percent destined for men," Almazan says.
He says they have made labor relations more respectful and harmonic.
"The businesses have also discovered that the women are a lot more careful with the teams they handle, they are responsible, they do not fall into problems of alcoholism or of work absenteeism," he says.
"It is true that we are not as strong as the men, but I believe that we are more resistant to adverse conditions, such as the cold or to spending many hours working," she says.
Joana Moreno, 24, one of 16 women working in another gold deposit, "El Sauzal," in Chihuahua, a state north of Zacatecas that also has a long mining tradition, says the masculine environment takes getting used to.
"You live in an environment of men and you have to adapt," Moreno says.
Driving a large truck, Moreno says she is used to her new job and happy here.
The mining women say they receive equal pay with their male counterparts. Moreno makes $760 a month and Solis' mother earns $840 a month as operators of the trucks. An administrator and a professional, Solis makes $1,175 a month.
But Solis says that some supervisors are still confronting negative reactions from some men. Various industry insiders say that hundreds of years of sexist tradition will not be forgotten in a few years.
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Cristina Avila-Zesatti joined Global Press Institute in 2010 and considers herself to be a "peace correspondent."
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