Meet Rock Star Women In Manufacturing

"I am woman hear me roar." Those lyrics always come to mind when I read about achievements women have made in the workplace. Imagine the roar you'll hear at the STEP Ahead – Women in Manufacturing awards reception when 122 women are honored for their achievements in the manufacturing industry. The event takes place on Feb. 5 in Washington, D.C.

The Manufacturing Institute, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, University of Phoenix and Deloitte recently announced the recipients of the first Women in Manufacturing STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Awards. The awards honor women who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers and represent all levels of the manufacturing industry, from the factory-floor to the C suite.

The award is part of the larger STEP Ahead initiative launched to examine and promote the role of women in the manufacturing industry through recognition, research and best practices for attracting, advancing and retaining strong female talent.

Looking over the list, I see many representatives from the chemical industry. Here are just a few – along with their thoughts about manufacturing today:

Sharon Bower, director, process engineering & controls, ConocoPhillips, Houston -- “Manufacturing is extremely rewarding.  You contribute to delivering a product the world uses.  You can expect a fast paced environment because production is on a time schedule.  Your skills enhance product quality and contribute to finding ways to manufacture them in the most cost effective manner. There are endless challenges and opportunities for continuous improvement.”

Wendy Gifford, senior director – global engineering,  SC Johnson, Racine, Wisc. --  “Henry Ford once said failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, but this time more intelligently. For those wishing to pursue a career in manufacturing, I would advise them to seize every opportunity in the manufacturing arena.”

Erika Hendricksen, global EH&S leader, Dow Coating Materials, The Dow Chemical Co., Wilmington, Ill. -- “For a gratifying career in manufacturing, your skills and values should align with the demands and rewards of manufacturing.  Manufacturing requires assertiveness, flexibility, collaboration, and attention to detail while maintaining a big picture perspective.  Above all, it requires a passion for people and problem solving.  The rewards are immense as you see your efforts produce tangible results.”

Joan Schork, chief engineer-process safety, Air Products, Allentown, Pa. -- “There is nothing better than being part of a team that brings a new plant on line or an older one to a new level of performance.  I love to be there, to see the realization of the ideas and the design calculations, to be part of making something.”

Another woman on the list, but isn't part of the chemical industry, is one whom I've known for nearly a decade. I first met her while working for IndustryWeek magazine. I knew then she was a leader in manufacturing. I've kept up with her via news releases and the grapevine. I was so pleased to see her name on this list.

Mary Jo Cartwright, director of Manchester Manufacturing Operations, Batesville Casket Co., Manchester, Tenn. -- “All of the awards received by the Manchester plant were special because they recognized the hard work and dedication of the greatest manufacturing team.   The group was never satisfied with the previous year’s performance and achieved improvement year over year.   I feel honored and fortunate to have led this amazing team.”  

Congratulations on work well done. I'll be listening for the roar and continue watching out for your names in the news.

To learn more about this program, visit the website.

Traci Purdum
Senior Digital Editor and champion of women in manufacturing.


On the social media front, be sure to check out her page.