Caterpillar Employees Participate in Women in Mining USA Annual Conference

Nearly 20 women from Caterpillar mining attended the conference to learn more about the growing role of women in the industry — and to demonstrate Caterpillar's role as a leader in diversity and inclusion

By Caterpillar | Posted August 7, 2023

The recent Women in Mining (WIM) USA 2023 annual conference brought more than 400 women together for three days of networking, education, career development and camaraderie, centered on the theme of “Changing the Future of Mining.”

Sponsored by the organization’s Arizona chapter, the event was April 12-15 in Tucson, home of the Caterpillar Mining Center — making it the ideal location for the nearly 20 Caterpillar employees who had the opportunity to participate, many for the first time.

The conference was also an opportunity for Caterpillar to demonstrate its commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and introduce the company’s sponsorship of a new mentorship network for WIM USA members.

Women in Mining is a nationwide organization committed to positioning mining as an equitable, sustainable and reputable industry. Members include women and men employed by or interested in the mining industry. Activities are focused on education, advocacy, empowerment and inspiration.

The organization was formed in 1972 to educate the public about the importance of mining as well as support women and underrepresented groups in the industry. Since 1972, the number of women in the industry has grown to about 12% of the global mining workforce. 

Women in Mining Conference

Education and Networking

The conference offered a wide variety of activities for attendees — from networking to roundtable discussions, mine-site visits to educational sessions. The program included:

  • Diverse speakers and panelists representing the mining industry
  • Interactive discussions, led by expert panelists and followed by table conversations
  • Networking opportunities with professionals and students
  • Professional development workshops

“I sat with geologists, engineers, students and peers and participated in roundtable discussions tackling topics that affect us today,” said Araceli Sanchez, a Caterpillar digital marketing specialist. “Listening to female leaders in the industry was truly inspiring and left a profound impact.”

The conference also offered opportunities to tour local mining operations operated by mining companies ASARCO and Freeport-McMoran.

ASARCO (American Smelting and Refining Company) is the U.S.-based subsidiary of international copper mining company Grupo Mexico. The visit included a tour of the ASARCO Mission mining complex, a large open-pit mine composed of several properties. Participants also toured the company’s Mineral Discovery Center, which offers information on the region’s copper mining history and present-day operations, as well as exhibits about the copper mining process.

“ASARCO did an incredible job highlighting the work they are doing to continually improve their operations and reinforcing the importance of inclusion in the workplace,” said Flor Rivas, a Caterpillar product manager. “We heard from several women about their successes and the impact they are having on the mining industry.” 

Several of the Caterpillar attendees visited the Freeport-McMoRan Sierrita mine, an open-pit copper and molybdenum mining complex located near the Caterpillar Tucson Proving Ground and Tinaja Hills Demonstration & Learning Center.

“We went to a lookout point where we could view the mine in action,” said Sanchez. “We saw loaded mining trucks heading up a haul road, and in the distance, we could see a rope shovel. It was truly majestic.”

Another lookout point provided a view of the site’s leach pads and an opportunity to hear from a Freeport-McMoRan engineer about the leaching process that is used at Sierrita to extract the copper and molybdenum from the ore.

The final stop was a lookout point with a special machine of particular interest to the women from Caterpillar: A cleaned and camera-ready 793D Mining Truck set aside for a walkaround and photo opportunities.

In addition to the mine tour, the group also visited Freeport’s Technology Center. “The center is equipped with state-of-the-art machines and equipment that they use to test soil samples that arrive from Freeport-McMoRan mine sites around the world,” Sanchez said. “It was interesting to learn that sites may encounter material in the ground that they’re unfamiliar with — and that could put operations at a standstill until the center in Arizona identifies it.”

793 group photo

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Diversity, equity and inclusion in the mining industry are always top of mind for WIM members. At the annual conference, Caterpillar joined leaders from the University of Arizona, Newmont Corporation and Equilibrium Mining to share their insights on this important topic.

“Caterpillar is committed to fostering a workplace that respects and celebrates diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives,” said Rivas.  “We believe that the more diverse and inclusive our company is, the stronger we are — and we’re better able to provide value for the industries we serve.”

Caterpillar leverages a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) framework that organizes the company’s strategic approach into three pillars: workforce, culture and outreach. The objective is to weave D&I seamlessly into the business, making it part of everyday operations.

Rivas explained the three pillars: “We strive to build a workforce that reflects the communities where we live and operate, foster an environment where everyone feels valued and respected, and provide opportunities to make investments and enhance workforce readiness in underserved communities around the world.”

Caterpillar recently released its annual Global Diversity & Inclusion Report, titled the Power of Everyone. Company data shows increases in workforce diversity in each of the past two years. The report shows that 27% of management employees are women, and the number of global women executives increased to 20%.

“I’m proud to work for a company that values diversity and recognizes that it strengthens us as a company,” said Rivas. “We know that the best ideas come from diverse and inclusive teams. And research shows that companies that achieve gender balance yield more positive results.”

The session included real stories from women working in the mining industry, said Jennifer Fox, Caterpillar aftermarket solutions area manager. “The panel discussions about leadership and diversity and inclusion left a lasting impression on me,” she said. “The women shared their personal experiences from their careers in mining and the emotions could be felt throughout the room.”

Flor Rivas panel discussion

One of those stories came from Rivas, who shared the importance of having a sponsor to serve as an advocate and support career growth goals.

“Having sponsors is crucial in advancing in your career,” she shared with the group. “Sponsors are those individuals who sit at the decision-making table and champion you. These individuals have your back and can put in your name for future roles.”

Rivas stressed that sponsorships aren’t pursued; they’re earned. “Sponsorships are earned through performance, trust and loyalty,” she said. “You do not ask for sponsorships. They are strategic partnerships that you develop founded on your exceptional execution and delivery.”

Mentoring Network

In addition to her role on the panel, Rivas also had the honor of announcing a new Women in Mining USA mentorship network sponsored by Caterpillar. The program, provided free of charge to WIM members, uses the power of mentorship to position mining as an equitable, sustainable and reputable industry.

“Mentorship will be one of the most important ways we can advance the cause to bring more diversity, and women in particular, into the mining workforce,” said Rivas.

Rivas has a long history with mentorship, having had a number of mentors in her diverse career as well as serving as a mentor herself. When working at General Electric, she helped establish a local mentorship network as part of the company’s Hispanic Forum employee resource group. She has also served as a mentor for the Society of Women Engineers.

“I find most mentees have similar questions and they circle around the themes of navigating a career, promotions, lateral moves, entering the workforce and work/life balance,” she said.

When Rivas joined Caterpillar and began working in the mining industry, she received guidance from two formal mentors in the company and reached out to WIM in an effort to expand her network in the industry.

“We eventually started talking about a potential sponsorship from Caterpillar,” said Rivas. “A sponsorship that would create a national mentoring platform we could all contribute and benefit from.”

WIM members at all levels can offer mentoring services and/or sign up to receive mentoring themselves. A dedicated website allows participants to choose from a list of world-class mentors, searchable by their expertise, and then book conversations online. These one- to two-week commitments supplement other WIM programming and ensure the program is respectful of mentors’ and mentees’ time.

Team-building and Support

For the women of Caterpillar, the WIM conference was an opportunity to connect not only with others in the industry, but also with Caterpillar colleagues with whom they may not interact on a regular basis.

Mentorship announcement

“I’d like to thank our Cat Mining team in attendance for sharing their stories with me and for listening and caring about me and my career,” said Sanchez. “Not only did we have a great time together, I feel like this experience helped us become lifelong friends. I now have a network of women at Caterpillar behind me, supporting me in my career.”

Caterpillar marketing consultant Amanda Springstead, who has been working in the mining industry for just over a year, echoed those sentiments. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to connect with and learn from so many incredible women across the industry,” said Springstead, who has responsibility for marketing some of the company’s biggest machines — hydraulic mining shovels and electric rope shovels. “I’m more excited than ever to be a part of this industry and to continue to grow in my career. Fortunately, at Caterpillar I’m surrounded by mentors and leaders ready to help me along the way.”

Mine site lookout
Sample Core
Group Photo at Lookout
Mine Site Map photo
Group photo at conference


At Caterpillar, we believe Diversity & Inclusion is a journey, not a destination. Learn more about all the efforts we are making to help ensure our workplace is representative of all the communities we serve — and that all our employees feel respected, seen, heard and valued

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