Since 2001, we've published an editorial agenda in the first issue of Plastics News each year, and one of the points has always been to encourage plastics companies to tap into the expertise of women.
"Employers also should embrace diversity in their workforces, including opportunities for women," the agenda says.
I know that, sometimes, women in the plastics industry feel like they're alone. That's especially true for those in management and technical roles. They've had the experience where they've been in a meeting, or at a conference or trade show, and they're overwhelmingly outnumbered by men. Or where someone assumes that they're not the decision-maker.
It's an old stereotype, but it still happens. Billie Jean King may have beaten Bobby Riggs in straight sets in 1973, but the plastics industry, at times, still has a caveman reputation.
But we're working to change that.
Every year, I enjoy reading the profiles of the plastics industry leaders we profile in our Women Breaking the Mold special report. This year's package of stories runs from Page 8-19.
The plastics industry is filled with interesting, talented women who contribute to its success in more ways than I can count.
But let me try.
This is the third year in a row that we've done this project, and we've now profiled 74 women. And that doesn't count a special report we did on women in the plastics industry more than a decade ago — most of those women are still in the industry, after all. And it also doesn't count all the women we've profiled in our CEO and Rising Stars issues, or our monthly What Keeps You Up at Night columns.
I know we're still just scratching the surface. Every year we get more nominations than we can handle, and I do encourage anyone who was left out to participate again next year.
The feedback we get every year to this special report is outstanding, and I'm pleased that so many women want to be profiled. We also get quite a few nominations from colleagues, and we follow up on those, too.
We have a very wide range of companies and job titles in this year's report. (Five have a title of president, CEO or owner.) I've noticed that many who we've profiled in recent years have been promoted or moved up the ladder at different companies — one just this week. It will be exciting when our first Women Breaking the Mold alumna joins the CEO ranks — I hope she'll mention the honor in her press release.
It's an ethnically and racially diverse mix as well. But they have a few things in common.
It's interesting that so many have comments relating to the sustainability of plastics — how they personally want to make a positive impact on the environment, or they feel that plastics can make a difference.
And many say they want to help other women succeed in the industry, and they're willing to mentor young women getting their start in plastics. It's encouraging that they want to give back and help create opportunities for more women in plastics.
Links to all 22 profiles in this year's Women Breaking The Mold, posted alphabetically July 17-21, will be linked below:
Loepp is editor of Plastics News and author of "The Plastics Blog." Follow him on Twitter @donloepp.