A Woman in a Man's World

The copper mines of Chile are a man's world. Traditionally, miners have considered women bad luck for operations. But Isabel Galleguillos paid no attention to that. She dared to become the first woman to own a mine in the country.

Life hasn't been easy for Galleguillos, who is featured in the Bravery Tapes episode "Woman in a Man's World." Her ex-husband physically abused her and she spent years making miserable pay as a farm and restaurant worker.

"It was very enslaving to work how I worked," she said.

So she decided to start a new life and become a pioneer by opening a mine in the area of Tambillos.

"If I can do it, why not?" she said.

Men didn't take kindly to working with her at first.

"It was difficult," Galleguillos said. "They would say, 'A woman in mining? What?' Even women would think I was strange."

But she only responded with her strong work ethic. She worked seven days a week while raising four children as a single mother. Soon she had built a successful mine with male employees.

"My dream is for my children to be alright," she said. "That's why I'm fighting. I've sacrificed as a woman. I don't want them to go through what I did."

Isabel hopes her determination can inspire others as well.

"Don't let yourself fall. Keep fighting," she said. "If one thing doesn't work out, look for something else. But always keep fighting."

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