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International Women’s Day 2023 – reflecting on progress.

8 March 2023

International Women’s Day 2023 – reflecting on progress.

International Women’s Day is about acknowledging the achievements of women all over the world. It’s a chance to celebrate what it means to be a woman and highlight the continual progress being made towards true equality.

But it’s also an opportunity for authentic reflection – a chance to recognize the ongoing obstacles that millions of women on the planet still face today, a chance to digest the inequalities that are present across all fractions of our society, and a chance to challenge ourselves to be better.

This International Women’s Day, we wanted to hear from many of the women driving change across our organization. From issues facing the industries we serve, to highlighting personal achievements, challenges, and opportunities for women across the globe, we want to bring you a selection of stories from a range of perspectives.

Women in industry.

Our journey towards protecting our customer’s brand and product involves us supporting businesses across a range of industries. And it’s no secret that these industries – and the industries we operate within – are extremely male dominated.

If we take the engineering industry for example, the widely reported gender imbalance is clear. According to Engineering UK, in 2021 women made up just 16.5% of all engineers in the UK. Similarly, Zippia estimated that the engineering workforce in the US was slightly lower at 13.7%. Deloitte also reported that fewer than one third of manufacturing employees are women.

However, while these figures may appear bleak, there is progress being made. If we compare the 2022 figure from Engineering UK to the figure in 2010, you can notice a 6% increase in the number of female engineers who make up the UK engineering industry.

Nora LaOr, Global Product Specialist at Industrial Physics, shared her thoughts, ‘Despite the growing number of women in Math and Engineering, we still face challenges to career development. This is especially true in industries that have been traditionally male dominated where women are often paid less than man, have limited opportunities for promotion and are underrepresented in executive roles.

I believe there is an increase in women’s representation in tech roles over the last 10 years, however they still make up a disproportionately small percentage of tech leaders. Although progress has been made towards gender equality there are still many challenges that include the gender pay gap, lack of access to leadership roles and relatively sparse representation for women in top-level management positions who can act as role models or mentors for younger women entering the workforce.’

Sinem Kulekci, Inside Sales Manager at Industrial Physics, echoed this sentiment, ‘Over the past 10 years, there have been some positive changes for women in terms of workplace equality and opportunities. For example, more women are graduating from college and entering the workforce, and there are  more female CEOs and leaders in various industries. However, there is still work to be done to address gender disparities and eliminate discrimination and bias.’

And similar feelings were shared by Anne Oreskovich, Human Resources Manager, at Industrial Physics, ‘I think there has been more awareness to the disparity over the last 10 years, but I personally do not think there has been as much progress as there should have been, especially as such a big deal is made when women break through (they earned the kudos!).’

This isn’t something that’s going to change overnight. No matter how much organizations are doing, or how well-meaning intentions may be, there’s always further to go and there’s always more that we can do in the quest for true gender equality. But if businesses are going to move forward and create positive change, then the voices of women in industry must be heard.

Re-shaping our thinking.

While progress is prevalent, the gender imbalance is still clear – but does the root cause runs much deeper? Karen Mann, Director of Global Marketing at Industrial Physics discussed how this could be embedded into the fabric of global education frameworks.

‘I think a lot of it comes way before women even think about partaking in a STEM career – in school and in the home. The subjects are (or at least when I was at school, a long time ago) less favourable to females. There is a lot of social bias towards getting a less-scientific role, the environments are male dominated and therefore less inviting to women as a collective, there is a pay gap between men and women in many areas. It can also be that the industries still operate a very 9-5 mentality and women want more flexible working to accommodate parental roles.

Flexibility, and a more open approach towards achieving balance, is an issue that many women across Industrial Physics felt was an important area to drive change within business.

Debbie McInnis, President of the Americas at Industrial Physics, spoke openly about this topic, ‘I think as women, we are challenged with needing to work harder and smarter to ensure we can provide balance in our home and work lives. Most of us are spinning many plates and learning to adapt. Work/life balance is also much more attainable today.’

Kate Sanchez, Head of Digital and Demand, also articulated the importance of businesses supporting employees across a variety of areas, ‘There is still a long way to go to establish better business practices and understanding around women’s health including maternity and menopause. But I have seen some companies leading the way with outstanding support and policies for employees to help women with their physical and mental wellbeing – hopefully more companies will adopt soon.’

Inspiring women across the world.

Inspirational figures can appear in various forms – whether it’s a manager who acts as a mentor, a friend who offers a kind word of advice, or even a public figure who utters a few impressionable words that stay ingrained in our brain forever. ‘There are so many people who have inspired me throughout my life’, shared Debbie, ‘For me personally, it has been my grandmother. A woman who was widowed at the age of 48 with 6 children. She was a Canadian that came to the US to join my grandfather just before he passed away suddenly. They spoke very little English and had to learn quickly. She worked 3 jobs to care for her children and one of those jobs was a trade that was, and still is, predominantly held by men. She was a lead machinist at the WH Nichols Company, a precision manufacturing company and was proud to tell me that she was recognized for out-working her male counterparts, she had 3 times the output & quality of her fellow machinists. Nichols was ahead of their time and were known for fair and equal treatment of their employees. She worked for 20 years before retiring from Nichols.

As you can imagine, this was a very demanding position, yet she still managed to take care of her family and was the kindest and most patient person I have known. She was a mother, grandmother, sister, and aunt who cared deeply for her family. An incredible cook, a nursing assistant that volunteered at the local hospital and a machinist! She learned to master a complex trade in the second half of her life. She was an extremely talented woman, but would have never called herself progressive or talented, she was humble and thankful. She paved the way for many women in a manufacturing field without even knowing it.’

For Esther Krigsman, Export Sales Executive at Industrial Physics, it was her mother who inspired her, ‘She always said in my youth and still does, that I shouldn’t be dependent and that I should stand behind my own decisions.’ Simone Canter, Marketing Manager at Industrial Physics, agreed with this, ‘My mother has been an inspiration to me. She was, among several things, the drive for me to develop myself. I can’t really say that one person has inspired me. I pick up something from everyone so that I also challenge myself in that way. The challenge is in how other women solve things, create opportunities, be physically strong, come up with ideas, etc.’

When asked about women in the industry who has inspired her, Karen shared her admiration of fellow colleagues – both within Industrial Physics and in previous roles. ‘Jessie, our Events Manager, who had a career break to be more present for her children in their early years, can now juggle a million tasks at the same time and is completed unflustered by challenging situations. In a previous role one of my colleagues always pushed herself forward, pushed for higher pay, more opportunities and never ever excused herself for being a parent or a woman and is still now my real-life inspiration who is incredibly successful in her field.’

Jessie herself shared a story about a particularly special friend, ‘My friend Katie’s little daughter got diagnosed with a rare blood cancer when she was just 1 and lived in GOSH for a pretty much a whole year of her early years. Thankfully she has made a full recovery and is now a thriving 10 year old! Due to the local community being so supportive during this time, Katie had the idea to then set up a charity called Gold Geese which helps local families who have children with cancer. Then charity is doing brilliantly and the work they do and support they give is just incredible. Katie also recently decided to train as a celebrant. A perfect example of turning something to negative into a positive.’

Nora’s inspiration came from a former educator, ‘One of my college professors was born and raised in the USSR where she was trained from an early age to become an Olympic swimmer. Later, when she decided she wanted to study Math and Engineering instead, she experienced tremendous pushback and had to move to Israel to make that happen. She had to learn a new language and acclimate herself to a completely different culture to follow her dreams. Many years later, after an illustrious and successful career in university and tech, I was lucky enough to attend a few of her classes and meet this exceptional woman. She has been my inspiration to never be pigeonholed in my career and take risks to achieve my goals.’

Reflecting upon progress.

There is still a long way for the world to go until true gender equality is achieved. But when we look to the path ahead of us, it’s important to look back at the many steps that have already been taken.

According to Kate, ‘The change is rapid, with more female leaders, influencers, and creators than ever! And women are finding it easier to speak out when they have bad experiences or feel like they are being unfairly treated. I’m proud of where I am today with my career and my personal life. I have been working in the marketing profession for 25 years this year and have had diverse experience from a small print management company to the third biggest retailer in the world. I’ve worked on everything from TV & radio advertising to postcards, marketed for Cadburys and now to Industrial Physics. I’ve travelled well and met some absolutely amazing people.  I also have 3 wonderful children who are my absolute pride and joy.

Anything is possible when you work for it. I can say this now but women who were born just 20 years before me weren’t able to achieve the same, equality has come a long way.’

One of my proudest professional achievements thus far has been co-founding Quality By Vision (one of Industrial Physics’ specialist testing brands) in the US.’, explains Nora, ‘Starting a business from scratch, building it from the ground up, creating a customer base out of nothing, and watching the business grow and flourish has been an amazing learning experience.

Handing it off to the fantastic Industrial Physics commercial team in the US and continuously supporting them as I transitioned to my current role in product management has offered a different perspective on the business.

Today, being a part of a small but effective product management team for Food and Beverage that has made such a big impact on Industrial Physics is also a major source of pride.’

 

 

 

 

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