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For Industry Women, the Club Stops Here

Thursday, January 17, 2013

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SAN ANTONIO—Gone are the days of the good ol‘ boys club, at least as far as the protective coatings industry is concerned.

More than 20 women and two men brought decades upon decades of experience Wednesday (Jan. 16) to the Women's Café Round Table at SSPC 2013 in San Antonio.

The two-hour event itself reflected the industry's changing times. Three years ago, it did not exist. This year, it was part of the conference's President's Lecture Series.

The initiative has grown under the leadership of Joyce Wright, of Newport News Shipbuilding, and Cynthia O'Malley of KTA-Tator Inc.

No Place to Hide

Industrial coatings work is no longer a male-dominated field, and workshop attendees proved it as they ticked off their positions and qualifications: materials scientists, Defense Department leaders, utility managers, company presidents, coatings formulators, chemists, and more.

Industry veterans wryly noted the changing times.

"I remember when the ladies' room was a place you could hide," said Karen Kapsanis, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Protective Coatings and Linings.

Women in Coatings
Photos: Jodi Temyer / Technology Publishing Company

The Women's Cafe Round Table aims to advance women in the coatings industry.

"SSPC feels like your family. And I'm glad to see we have more women than you can count on your fingers and toes," said Lydia Frenzel, Ph.D., a pioneer in the waterjetting industry and a 2013 recipient of SSPC's Technical Achievement Award. Frenzel also won the award in 1996.

The Conversation

The session consisted of four moderators and four topics. Participants tackled 15-minute discussions of each of the following topics:

  • How to communicate effectively (which men and women do differently);
  • How to ask for what you want (often the opposite of what women have been taught);
  • How to step up to difficult people and issues (sometimes hard for women who are naturally nurturing); and
  • How to balance work and home (and try not to be Superwoman) and get results.

Shaping Future Achievements

The SSPC Women's Forum,  a new LinkedIn group aligned with the SSPC Women's Round Table Workshop, aims to further conversations about expanding the roles of women, professional achievement, and future steps.

Women in coatings

This year's workshop consisted of four different topics, each discussed with a moderator for 15 minutes.

Also being developed is a new award for 2014 to honor an outstanding woman or man who has shown leadership and a desire to advance the coatings industry. Detailed criteria are currently being discussed, and any suggestions are welcome, organizers said.

For more information on the Round Table or the award, contact Joyce Wright at or Cynthia O'Malley at


Tagged categories: Coatings education; SSPC; SSPC 2013

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