Women in mining must overcome their “petty” differences to ensure that they achieve great things in the local mining industry, states Limpopo-based copper miner Palabora Mining Company human resources development and training manager Sisiwe Mthethwa.
She told delegates at training and conferencing company Intelligence Transfer Centre’s recent Women in Mining conference, in Johannesburg, that it was “deeply disheartening” to hear women say they would prefer to report to a male supervisor than a female supervisor.
Mthethwa attributed this attitude to the way women behave to one another and was of the firm view that more needed to be done to ensure that women worked together to advance themselves in the sector.
“It is bad enough that we have to compete against men, who do not need to overcome any hurdles at all, but now we are seeking to place additional hurdles in the way of other women,” she lamented.
Mthethwa noted that there were many laws in the past that prevented women from working in certain parts of the local mining industry. However, she stressed that this past could no longer be used as an excuse for why women were not making sufficient strides in ensuring full gender parity at all levels of the mining industry.
“The fact is, nonetheless, that our boardrooms are still predominantly dominated by men. However, we are having to ask men to support women in mining initiatives, while us as women do not support our own empowerment initiatives.
Charity begins at home, let us start doing the things that we want other people to do for us, for ourselves. We have to recognise the achievements of other women to ensure that the men will recognise the achievements of all women in the industry,” Mthethwa emphasised.
Moreover, she highlighted that women in senior leadership positions had “a duty and an obligation” to develop future women leaders in the mining industry.
“Mentorship of women in mining is crucial to ensuring the establishment of a sustainable pipeline of talented women, who will be able to chart the course for a more caring and compassionate sector, while also ensuring improved efficiencies, safety standards and hopefully greater revenue generation as a result,” Mthethwa concluded.