08/13/2013 05:12 EDT | Updated 10/13/2013 05:12 EDT

Where Are All the Women in Mining?

The other day, I was watching my friend's one-year-old daughter as she crawled through the grass. She ripped up dandelions in her chubby fingers, and buried her hands into the warm dirt in the garden. Then, before anyone could stop her, she shoved two fistfuls of mud into her mouth. We all laughed uncontrollably.

Then my friend said, "I hope she never outgrows this."

My friend wasn't talking about her daughter's love for eating dirt. Rather, she was talking about her daughter's love of the outdoors, her sense of adventure, her desire to get dirty. Then she explained that she wants her daughter to grow up tinkering with machines, collecting rocks, and building things. Essentially, doing things that tend to be associated with boys, not girls.

We need to encourage girls to pursue their interests in science, technology, and engineering. All too often, girls lose this interest by the time they reach university. But just as it is up to parents, teachers, and government policy to foster a love in girls for the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, corporations can play a critical role, too.

The mining industry is no exception. In fact, it can play a lead role in opening up the STEM fields to women. Kinross Gold currently employs thousands of engineers (in a wide range of engineering disciplines) and scientists (including geologists, biologists, and metallurgists, to name but a few). But currently, our ranks of engineers and scientist are filled by an overwhelming majority of men.

This is not by choice. With few exceptions, women do not often even consider mining as a viable career path. The thought, if you can believe it, never crosses their minds. This mind-frame is what we need to change. The reality is that mining is no longer about brute strength and pickaxes. It is now one of the most technologically advanced industries in the world. And as an industry that is currently pushing the boundaries of engineering and technology, we should be appealing to young women everywhere to become involved.

This is why Kinross is so proud to be a partner in the G(irls) 20 Summit. Through summits like G(irls) 20 Summit, civil society and corporations can figure out new strategies to engage girls so that they never lose their interest in playing in the mud. We can encourage young women to study the STEM fields in universities and colleges, and invite them into the exciting world of mining as a career.

The mining industry, as a whole, would benefit by tapping into a reserve of talent and wealth of experience that it previously did not have access to. The industry can also play a big role in leveling the gender income gap, because the industry tends to pay well.

Watch our featured YouTube Video of Women in Mining at Kinross Gold Corporation.

Tara Wiseman, is the Director, Human Resources for Kinross Gold Corporation. She has almost 20 years of experience in Human Resources, having held a wide range of positions covering most areas of Human Resources, including specialist roles in pension & benefits, recruitment, training & development, and performance management, as well as generalist and business partner roles. At Kinross, Tara is part of the Human Resources leadership team, and participates in setting and implementing the global HR strategy. Tara holds her CHRP, and is a current member of the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA).