Women Breaking the Mold has a bit of a new meaning added to it this year. Or maybe it's been brewing for a few years — two to be more precise.
I'm, of course, talking about the COVID-19 pandemic and the affects it's had on women in the plastics industry — and American workforce culture all around.
I started off during the stay-at-home orders already in a nontraditional role. I am the breadwinner; my husband stayed home to be with our then-2-year-old. He got a job at a hardware store just weeks before the coronavirus hit the U.S. All of a sudden, our roles switched, but with one key difference: I'd still be working here at Plastics News but also caring for our son.
Fast forward again, we've added another little one to the mix. Our daughter has a heart defect, so we waited and waited for her to get that lifesaving vaccine to protect her.
Things still aren't the way they were before the pandemic. I don't think they'll ever go back, and while that's OK, we definitely need to acknowledge the elephant in the room.
Many of our Women Breaking the Mold class of 2022 spent yet another year juggling hybrid office work schedules, while those on the shop floor kept the lines working.
We still get comments like, "Why do awards for women in plastic? Shouldn't it just be for all?" But of course we have to remember that there isn't a large percentage of women in the plastics field. By highlighting it, we're showing that women can come into this profession, excel and have so much to offer the industry as a whole.
Like all working moms, I work my tail off at my job. I'm not perfect, but I try really hard every day. I can jump on and work at a moment's notice, and I often spend my Sunday nights getting primed for the week ahead.
We working moms worry about whether it appears that we're committed as we are to our jobs. I'd say that worry is enough to show that we are not only committed but also that we care deeply for the work we do.
I toil over my kids and whether or not I'm being a good mom for them, but I also meet their basic needs — food, water, sleep, play, learn. It gets complicated after two years without playgroups, music classes or indoor sports. It gets even more complicated when it comes to school and daycare.