The National Mining Association is profiling women in mining with a feature on Virginia "Ginger" McLemore from the New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Resources in Socorro, NM. We appreciate NMA for granting approval to reprint the full profile below:
Women in the mining field will grow an incredible nine percent by 2019. With 1.2 million American jobs supported by minerals mining, it is no wonder that women have found a home in mining. Not only that, but the average salary for an employee in the sector is $85,504 a year and often climbs above $100,000. These women in mining are bringing unique skills in math and science to this male-dominated industry, proving that women can conquer all.
Spotlight on Ginger
Ever since Ginger McLemore was in junior high school she knew she wanted to be a geologist. She grew up in Baltimore and when it was time to go to college, she instinctively looked at the Colorado School of Mines, but instead set her sights on the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. In her current job she works in the Applied Research department, where she is the senior economic geologist for the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources. Throughout her career, Ginger has been given the ability and opportunity to set her own projects and continue to work on what she finds most interesting.
When Ginger first started work in in the 1980s, it was a much different scene. Women were in the field—but they had just started trickling in. Ginger mentioned, “I had two children at the time and the industry just did not know how to handle it.” But now she says it’s a much different scene; the industry now understands when women need to take their kids to school or leave for an assembly.
Over the past 15 years, the industry has grown. When Ginger was in school, she was the only women in her field camp. When the students would take field trips to the mine, the mine owners would say that women were not allowed to come in. But when the professor threatened to leave with all the students, the mine changed their mind.
Ginger says that she is happy women are being recognized for their achievements in mining. Back then, the ratio of women to men was 1:5 – perhaps even lower – but as time has passed, the ratio has shifted to 3:5. She even added that at the New Mexico Geological Survey there are more females on the executive board than males.
Lastly, she tells young women interested in the field, “you’ll never be bored. It will always be challenging and you have the opportunity to do things you could have never imagined.”
Virginia “Ginger” McLemore currently serves as the senior economic geologist for the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources and the Minerals Outreach Liaison for the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. She joined the Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources in 1980 and was promoted to senior geologist in 1993.
She specializes in mineral resources in New Mexico (geology, origin, resource potential, water resources, environmental assessment, impacts on water resources, reclamation, sustainable development; see current projects) and the geology and history of mining districts in New Mexico. She also holds memberships to several professional societies related to minerals mining.