Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Women in Comminution


This is a snapshot of this morning's Comminution '14 technical session.

One thing for me stands out - the audience is virtually all male.  A completely different gender distribution from other MEI Conferences such as Flotation or Process Mineralogy.

Why is this? What puts women off comminution as a career interest?

14 comments:

  1. Hi Barry,

    Well if I were attending in Cape Town this week I sure would be there! Might be the location. Loads of us gals at SME in the US this year. Women are becoming a larger proportion of our industry everyday. It takes time. I remember when women were banned from entering underground workings! It wasn't until 1976 in the US that we were allowed to enter the mines and compete for those good-paying jobs. Now we are finally entering higher and higher levels of operations and technical management so it's only a matter of time before the room at MEI is a little more colorful.
    Sue Ritz, SGS/KD Engineering, USA

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    1. Hi Sue. Thanks for this. I am not questioning the numbers of women in mining/mineral processing. We have a large proportion of women adding colour to most of our MEI Conferences, so my question was concerned only with comminution. What is it about this area of mineral processing which is not attractive to women?

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  2. It's all those grinding balls. It puts us off, Barry
    Lucy England, FLSmidth, UK

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  3. Replies

    1. I think you will find its because it is less process and more mechanical, so we see it as less interesting.
      Lucy England

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  4. Maybe we men just enjoy breaking things!

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  5. I would say that in addition to the straight mineral processing route comminution draws people from fields such as mechanical engineering and physics which tend to have a higher proportion of males whereas flotation is more likely to attract chemists and chemical engineers which have a larger proportion of females. Personally I prefer the areas of Comminution and classification and have attended the Comminution conference previously.
    Ashleigh Collins, Multotec, Australia

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  6. I think I'm being misunderstood. At SME there were plenty of women attending the comminution talks. The presumption here is that the populations of women at each venue would be equally attracted/dissuaded from any particular subject. It may be the number and proportion of women attending mining schools vs. the plethora of chemical engineers pressed into service due to a lack of graduates. Chemical engineers do not learn about comminution until they get on the job. I have found that (men and women alike) they are less interested in the mills and more interested in those unit operations that fall inside their comfort zone - which could account for the uneven attendance. :]
    Sue Ritz, USA

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    1. I think the last comment from Susan sums it up quite nicely - it has less to do with gender and far more to do with the original training of the people working in the mineral processing field - particularly from an Australian perspective where a large number of the metallurgists working on site are chemical engineering graduates who are usually far less comfortable with the fundamentals of comminution.
      Ashleigh Collins, Australia

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  7. Hi Dr. Barry
    Its true for India as very few women opt for Mineral Processing. Secondly the processes which are laborious are avoided by women. No doubt there should be no gender biased education but choice of such subjects are very much needed. Even there is very few information available with the publications relevant to Industrial communition and its problems.

    Thanks
    Rama Murthy

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  8. This is slightly off-topic, in that it's not specifically comminution, but there is an interesting interview here about women in mining, and South Africa in particular: http://www.worldwide-rs.com/lets-talk-about-women-in-the-mining-industry

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  9. See also the comments on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Why-are-women-not-attracted-1945393%2ES%2E5859209251636936705?trk=groups_most_recent-0-b-ttl&goback=%2Egmr_1945393&_mSplash=1

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  10. Recent aricle on women in comminution sector:
    Please follow this link to view the newsletter www.ausimm.com.au/content/docs/societies/wimnet_vol1_2014.pdf.

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