A few weeks back, while reading Bill Bregar's profile of new Plastics Hall of Fame member Martin Stark, a few paragraphs jumped out at me.
Stark was speaking about how he got his start in plastics machinery in the U.S., thanks to a letter written by his wife that pointed him toward Constanze Flindt.
Born in Czechoslovakia, Flindt had helped start Battenfeld of America, the U.S. business for the German machinery maker, in 1964. She was a rare female executive at a German machinery company and was its president for 18 years.
"She was probably, at that time, the most powerful woman in the plastics industry in the United States. Seriously," Stark said. "She was on the SPI board. She was very, very smart. And she gave me opportunities and supported me and my family all the time. I have the highest respect for her ... she was some woman, believe me."
The first thought I had: Why had I never heard anything about her prior to this? I've been writing about plastics for nearly 20 years. I've written about Wittmann Battenfeld. I've written about machinery. I've profiled women in the business.
Why hadn't I heard about her?
And why wasn't she in the Plastics Hall of Fame?
The Hall has about 200 members. Three are women: Stephanie Kwolek, who created Kevlar; Maureen Steinwall, the owner of molding company Steinwall Inc.; and Donna Davis, an engineer with ExxonMobil Chemical Co., who was inducted in the Hall this year as part of the same class as Stark.
The Hall opened in 1972. Flindt worked with Battenfeld into the 1980s, and died in 2003.
Why go into all this now? Because I'd hate for more women to be overlooked. Yes, there are more men in the plastics industry, but that is changing.
Our annual Women Breaking the Mold special issue highlights women in sales, in engineering, in mold making and management. I've spoken with outstanding young women at Society of Plastics Engineers events who talk about opportunities they're finding at materials companies, machinery firms and plastics processors.
We'd like to talk to more.
Head over to PlasticsNews.com/wbmsurvey and you'll find the form to nominate someone as a Woman Breaking the Mold. You can nominate yourself or someone else. She can be someone in the upper echelon of a company or a recent graduate with a bright future.
Let's make sure that we start celebrating these women today, rather than wait for someone else to remember them after they're gone.
And, by the way, the Plastics Hall of Fame accepts posthumous nominations. That process opens Jan. 1. Hopefully Flindt can get her long overdue recognition.
Rhoda Miel is the news editor for Plastics News. Follow her on Twitter @PNRhodaMiel.