Latin America’s top mining exposition kicked off with a seminar on promoting gender equality. Meanwhile, at the exhibition center a few miles away, women in tight dresses and high heels posed next to mining tool booths and strip-club promoters at the entrance offered two-for-one drink coupons to attendees.
The week-long Expomin event in Chile offered a glimpse at both how far the industry has come — and how far it has to go. The last time the event was held, in 2016, Chile’s then Mining Minister Aurora Williams called for an end to the use of women as a commercial hook and set a 10 percent target of female participation in the sector for 2018. The industry hasn’t yet met that goal.
As a symbol of its commitment, Expomin opened with its “Women and Mining” panel. About half of the speakers at the session were women, a marked contrast with the overall event.
Some 85 percent of speaking slots were awarded to men. “We’re not doing this to look good in a picture,” Joaquin Villarino, president of Chile’s Mining Council, told an audience of mostly women.
The official picture didn’t look that good — a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the event featured no women, with Chilean Mining Minister Baldo Prokurica and some of the nation’s top mining executives smiling for the commemorative photo.
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