Women in plastics and looking beyond the label
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Women in plastics and looking beyond the label

Jul 27, 2023

Labels can be a double-edged sword. There are some you seek out — such as those that accompany educational degrees from a specific university or titles like "senior project manager" or "shift lead supervisor." Others are applied by people who don't want to acknowledge your accomplishments. Just consider the hot-button phrase "diversity hire" as an example of that.

And then some are just confusing, like "Queenagers," a phrase from a United Kingdom-based group looking to identify women from age 45-65 who came up in a business world where the glass ceiling had only recently begun to be cracked.

The 50 women just named as Plastics News' Women Breaking the Mold for 2023, I hope, will wear their new label proudly, joining hundreds of other women PN has profiled for their work in every branch of the industry.

Jordan Vitick, PN's special project editor who leads this annual report, noted a trend this year.

"More nominees had titles of director, vice president, manager or leader than we'd seen before and more worked in industries such as environmental health, safety, regulations and operations," she writes in this week's viewpoint.

What's also clear is that these women are helping others to follow. In the profiles, you'll find women who are mentoring girls in STEM and collaborating on research while raising children who will see new opportunities. "If you can see it, you can be it," as Sherrika Sanders, senior technical engineer at Manner Polymers, puts it.

Noon, the group that has coined the term "Queenagers," says that the generation of women who entered the workforce in the 1980s and 1990s "don't want to be invisible anymore."

"They demand to be heard, and it is important that they are for all the women coming up behind them," Noon notes.

While I may be uncertain about wanting to apply a new Queenager label to myself, I do agree with that sentiment.

We already know that injection molding is the largest segment of the plastics industry. PN's recent ranking of injection molders tracked nearly 600 injection molding companies in North America worth a combined $40 billion in annual sales.

So obviously the Society of Plastics Engineers National Week of Injection Molding, which begins today, has a lot of territory to cover.

The online event takes place 9 a.m. to noon Eastern time each day with speakers from manufacturing, research, equipment, materials and tooling all taking part.

It's one thing to use recycled plastics in a car. Making a car completely out of recovered electronic waste such as cellphones, laptops, chargers, vape pens and video game consoles is on a different level.

Envision Racing, which competes in the Formula E competition for electric vehicles, unveiled the Recover-E in London on July 25, timed for the final race of the 2023 season.

Students and tech industry groups collected items to create the car, which was then built by British artist and designer Liam Hopkins, our sister paper Sustainable Plastics writes.

The car does function, but it's not intended to go to the racetrack. Instead it will be displayed at events to generate interest in recycling and racing.

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