Influential Women In Manufacturing Earn Recognition

New awards honor achievements by those in manufacturing

By Traci Purdum, Senior Digital Editor

I’ve been covering the manufacturing industry for more than 20 years. During my tenure, I’ve met many influential women who’ve made a name for themselves in their roles on the plant floor and in management positions. When I come across press releases focusing on women in the chemical industry, I make sure to give them coverage. Indeed, over the last several years, we’ve written about several women who are busting glass ceilings and pushing the limits of innovation. You can read all of our coverage via our Women in the Chemical Industry page.

So, when my colleagues at Putman Media (Chemical Processing’s publishing parent) launched a recognition program, Influential Women in Manufacturing, I jumped on board to be part of the judging committee.

The goal of the program is to help shine a light on the importance of careers in science, technology, engineering and math — and to recognize that women play a vital role in industrial organizations. Hopefully, it will help spur more women to consider careers in manufacturing.

All of Putman Media's titles —Chemical Processing, Control, Control Design, Food Processing, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing, Plant Services, and Smart Industry— accepted nominations of women leading the charge for industrial innovation and manufacturing leadership in 2018.

We encouraged nominations of women at all levels of manufacturing organizations, from the plant floor to the C-suite, because we wanted to highlight the multitude of ways in which women are effecting change in the manufacturing and industrial production sectors.

We set out looking for women who are accomplished manufacturing professionals who have "moved the needle" within their organization or led industrial advancement through their participation in trade groups. We encouraged peers and business associates to submit nominations, and accepted self-nominations as well.

For our inaugural year, we had quite the turnout. We received nearly 100 nominations from women with varying titles across many industries. For the chemical industry, four extraordinary women stood out to the panel of judges: Lisa Caton LaBean, business manufacturing and technology center director, Dow Chemical; Rachelle Howard, senior process control engineer, Vertex Pharmaceuticals; Elizabeth Taylor, continuous improvement manager, Eastern Oil Co.; and Rendela Wenzel, global maintenance and reliability leader, Eli Lilly and Co.

In total, we named 22 women to this first class of Putman Media’s Influential Women in Manufacturing (see sidebar). This summer we’ll be featuring all final honorees in a dedicated Influential Women in Manufacturing eBook, which will be available to the public via a free download.

Additionally, I will interview each of the four women in our industry for These profiles, of course, will appear on the Women in the Chemical Industry page and I certainly will sing their praises via social media. We’re excited to introduce the 2018 roster of Influential Women in Manufacturing, and if you consider yourself an influencer or know someone who is, please consider making a nomination for next year’s class. Until then, keep me apprised of your accomplishments so I can write about them and inspire others to follow in your footsteps. You can email me at

Here's to the future of women in the chemical industry.

Traci-bio-photo.jpgTraci Purdum is Chemical Processing's senior digital editor. You can email her at