In a recent newsletter from InfoMine I wrote “This blog posting explores the role of passion, politics, law, and powerful men in opening new mines and stopping mine development in it tracks.” In short order, a correspondent took me to task for “alienating potential readers with an opening statement that suggests that only men hold any power in the industry.”
I replied: “I can only think you may be referring to something I wrote about Pebble Mine. If that is the case, my explanation is the light I try to shine on the negative side of the behavior of those involved. It is trite to approach a defense of any statement by pointing out where one has celebrated achievements, but please take a look at my many writings and I hope you will agree that I am trying to celebrate the achievements of all in mining, while keeping an eye on the foolish, pompous, and destructive. And if those terms apply more often to men than women (and I suspect they do) then that is the way the diamond is cut.”
We exchanged some interesting e-mails on this topic, none of which would be fair to repeat. However, here are a few culled paragraphs that set out, in a halting way, the value systems I would like to have this blog achieve. Where I slip and stumble, get on to me.
You are right. In this instance the wording simply slipped by. No excuse, not even a reason, but it is interesting to wonder if the words were thus because I had just read the reports that mentioned what had happened and all the knaves were just that: knaves. (I am not even sure what the female equivalent is—do you know?)
I concur that we must not support or promote a situation that entrenches a male-dominated perspective or industry. My reasons: (1) I simply believe it, coming as I do from South Africa where I grew up in a system that made much finer distinctions for discrimination and I know how horrible that is; and (2) I have two daughters and two grand-daughters and I want them to have a level playing field. Not to be facetious, but my older daughter is an MSc in geotechnical engineering (same as me) but things are not level—she is much brighter than me, is making more than I ever made, and knows more about seismic soil-structure engineering than I can begin to penetrate.
My request: help me, now a single old engineer, by bringing to my attention the doings of folk in the mining industry that shine a positive light on human ability and excellence. And also to keep things equal, bring to my attention the silly and wicked things people do that reflect ill on the industry—maybe by writing about them we can improve things just a little bit, even though in so doing we will surely offend somebody.