George Lewis spoke to a variety of women to find out why there is a lack of females in the industry and what can be done to improve diversity.
**This is an abridged version of an article which will appear in full in a forthcoming issue.**
We speak to different women who work throughout the glass industry. They explain how they got into the industry, why they decided to have this career and how the sector can be better equipped for future generations.
A look back in time
Professor Alicia Duran has spent her whole career in the industry and is President of the International Commission on Glass (ICG).
In the science world, Professor Duran said there was a ‘glass ceiling’ for women in having the ability to access the top jobs in a company.
Professor Duran also mentioned there is also a ‘sticky floor’ – a problem that women face in remaining in the same job ‘with no escape’ such as promotion to another role or stuck due to personal life such as giving birth and maternity leave.
Professor Duran argues gender equality increases creativity, efficiency and competitiveness.
Women have been neglected for generations in the science sectorProfessor Alicia Duran - President of the International Commission on Glass (ICG)
Emma Santi, who works as the Batch & Furnace Manager at Owens-Illinois (O-I) discovered glass during her Master’s Degree. She now manages a team of seven men at O-I’s Wingles, France plant.
Before entering the industry, she thought it was impossible was to find a job in the hot end of a glass plant.
Lieke de Cock, who joined Dutch process optimisation consultancy group CelSian Glass & Solar after graduating said: “I was not considering the glass industry at all and I was hesitant to start in this industry at first.
“A colleague took me to visit a glass plant and I was immediately hooked!”
The fascination surrounding glass also swept some who had not been interested in glass from a younger age.
Companies should use social media and other communication channels to promote the women that are already working with them.Emma Santi - Batch & Furnace Manager at Owens-Illinois (O-I) Wingles, France
Erika Ferrari, Executive Sales Manager for BDF Industries, previously worked within the construction industry and was looking for a new start but it was the pull of working within glass that attracted her.
Annie Chaux, the Decorating and Packaging Manager at Mexican container glass manufacturer IVC began working in the industry after finishing a mechatronics degree.
She now leads more than 200 people in the production and maintenance areas of the company while her responsibilities include 40 decorating machines and 13 packaging lines for four glass furnaces.
The pull of working in the glass industry was too hard to turn down.Erika Ferrari - Executive Sales Manager at BDF Industries
Ms Santi believes that in areas such as R&D or sales, there are more opportunities for women.
She said: “On the production side of the glass industry there are only a few women. The atmosphere is really hot, dirty, full of heavy mechanics, therefore some people (both men and women) don't think it’s not the proper place for a woman. Mentalities need to change, and it can start by hiring more women at the cold end at first.”
Maria Ferraccioli, Quality Control Group Manager at Italian pharmaceutical packaging company Bormioli Pharma, said despite women being under-represented in the industry, the ‘important aspect is the character of a person, whether it’s a man or woman’.
Bormioli Pharma owns two pharmaceutical glassworks in Bergantino and San Vito al Tagliamento in Italy.
The ‘important aspect is the character of a person, whether it’s a man or woman’.Maria Ferraccioli - Quality Control Group Manager at Bormioli Pharma, Italy
Women comprise approximately 10% of employees at IVC, a number which has steadily grown in recent years, said Ms Chaux.
She said: “Women in leadership positions at IVC shows our contribution and professional value.
The increase of women could lead younger generations to join the industry.
Companies should use social media and other communication channels to promote the women that are already working with them, said Ms Santi.
Ms de Cock added that the interesting challenges that are facing the industry could attract youngsters to have a career in glass.
Ms Chaux believes companies should also approach universities and high schools to show youngsters how exciting glassmaking can be as a way of getting more women into the industry.
Women in leadership positions at IVC shows our contribution and professional value.Annie Chaux - Decorating and Packaging Manager at IVC, Mexico
Ms Santi says that what she sees at O-I and in other glass companies where some of her friends work makes her optimistic.
Ms Ferraccioli added that there has been a considerable opening towards female workers areas considered a ‘man’s job’ until just a few years ago.
Ms de Cock said that she is optimistic of change, but thinks that it will take a long time: “Changes are visible but slow. “
A colleague took me to visit a glass plant and I was immediately hooked!Lieke de Cock - Furnace Support, CelSian Glass & Solar
Ms Chaux said: “Gradually the glass companies have diversified since women are achieving great results in accordance with the business expectations.”
Ms Ferraccioli added: “I believe there are no limitations for women who want to join the glass sector, and that there simply must be the desire to always question oneself, to never give in to the first obvious cause of defect.”