PaintSquare Daly News on Tablet
PaintSquare Daily News is available in three editions:
Industrial Only
Commercial Only
Combined Industrial & Commercial

Your free subscription also includes:
Special topical editions and Weekend Brief—a recap of the week’s top news and some great in-depth reads.

Subscribe now:


Comment |

Playing on a Field Not Remotely Level


By Cynthia O'Malley

The Women in Coatings group was formed in 2010 as part of SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings.

The goals were to provide an inclusive network, promote equal opportunities for genders, and effect a cultural change in the coatings industry that supports the leadership of women and recognizes women's many contributions to the industry.

Women at SSPC 2013
Photos: Technology Publishing Co.

SSPC's Women in Coatings group was established in 2010. By 2013, more women were attending, exhibiting and presenting at SSPC's show.

As a basis to gauge future growth and development of women in the industry, the group initially assessed the present state, feeling that we needed to understand the current picture in order to establish goals for our future.

What We Earn

The first assessment tool was a literature and statistical search. The available statistics included women in the labor force, progression of women’s roles, and associated changes for women in government and culture.

The research revealed that statistics specific to the coatings industry were very limited.

Statistics from 2009 of women in the labor force revealed that:

  • Women represent 49% of the workforce;
  • Mothers are the major breadwinners in 40% of U.S. families; and
  • Women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man for the same work.

In 1980, women’s relative earnings were 64 cents of a man's dollar; in 2005, the figure was 81 cents. This suggests that progress toward fair and equal compensation occurred between 1980 and 2005, but regressed between 2005 and 2009.

Women's Roundtable 2013

A roundtable discussion at SSPC 2013 began to focus on women in the coatings industry.

Today, gender equality reflected by equal compensation for the same work is not a reality.

A Place at the Table?

Additional statistics indicate that board seats and corporate posts of women executives have remained flat or declined in the last eight years.

Only 15 of the Fortune 500 companies had woman CEOs in 2010. And the American Bar Association reports marked disparity between the percentage of female associates (50%) and female partners (18.3%) within law firms.

In short, not a pretty picture of women’s present status in business—but a picture nonetheless that allows us to establish future goals.

Within education and government, there has been progress. The United States has had a female Speaker of the House, three female Secretaries of State, 36 women governors, 44 women senators, and four women among the Ivy League's eight presidents.

June Cleaver and Mr. Mom

Still, change is necessary in government and culture in order to effect a change in business.

Women in Coatings panel

SSPC 2014's Women in Coatings panel featured (from left) Wendy Banks, Victoria Gelling, Gail Warner, Alison Kaelin and Lana Ponsonby. Kaelin and Ponsonby won the first Women in Coatings Impact Award.

Government policies and laws continue to rely on an outdated model of the American family.  Most employers fail to acknowledge or accommodate the daily juggling of duties associated with family life.

Most are oblivious to the fact that employees are just as likely to be women as men, and that men now share domestic duties.

The media certainly have a role in establishing culture. The challenges portrayed by women with careers involve glamour, power, and sex, rather than the real daily struggles to raise children and pay bills.

The media also still present the domestic roles of men as demeaning. The co-dependence of genders to raise families is basically ignored.

Would society not benefit from addressing family issues without the distraction of gender stereotyping?  Family issues should be associated with non-gender roles. Parenting is the role of both men and women who have equal responsibility to care for their children.

Where are Women in Coatings?

In 2010, the Women in Coatings group identified the limited specific statistics on women in the coating industry.

Cindy O'Malley leading roundtable

The author, co-chair of SSPC's Women in Coatings program, led a roundtable on the issue at SSPC 2013.

A 2009 report in Coatings World indicated that men held 89% of coating-related employment; women, 11%. Of that 11%, 75% were employed by coating manufacturers, 20% by suppliers, and 5% were classified as "other."

Gender-specific salary information was not available. However, the generalized statistics provide some indication that women in the coatings industry face the same challenges as women in any historically male-dominated industry.

The lack of input and perspective from more than half of the potential population of the workforce appears to be generally unrecognized within the industry.

So a pertinent question is: Why is the coatings industry one that is still predominantly male?

Next: The results of the second assessment tool used by the Women in Coatings group—a 2011 survey of the coating industry specific to women.


Cynthia O'Malley

Cindy O’Malley is the manager of consulting and laboratory services at KTA-Tator Inc. and Co-Chair of SSPC’s Women in Coatings Program. During her 19 years with KTA, Cindy has been active in several industry organizations. She is an SSPC Certified Protective Coatings Specialist, a member of ASTM International, and the current president of the Pittsburgh Society for Coatings Technology (PSCT). Her industry honors include SSPC’s 2013 Presidents’ Lecture Series Award. Contact Cindy.



Tagged categories: Cynthia L. O'Malley; KTA-Tator; Program/Project Management; Protective Coating Specialist (PCS); SSPC

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (4/2/2014, 9:57 AM)

Discrimination based on gender is inherently bad - for everyone. If you look closer at the issue, the current difference in pay is a lot less if you correct for two factors: Difference in experience and difference in career choices. If you look at pay for women and men in the same career with the same experience, the gap is much smaller. Are there outliers? Absolutely. But by and large, the difference in pay is now dominated by experience and career choice. Is there still some gap due to discrimination or other "unexplained" sources? Absolutely, but the current estimates are around 5-7%, which is a lot less than the 23% referenced in this article. Wikipedia has a pretty good overview:

Comment from Warren Brand, (4/7/2014, 9:24 AM)

As a father of three daughters and someone having been in the coating industry for much of my adult life - please let me know if there's anything I can do. Are you familiar with the work that The University of Akron is going?

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (4/8/2014, 1:28 PM)

Warren, do you have a link to that research?

Comment from Billy Russell, (4/9/2014, 3:59 PM)

I fully support the Ladies, in our industry they are smarter, more detail oriented and much better looking on any job site I have been on. No discrimination will be allowed I will fire any man that does on a project I am involved with much rather work with ladies, any day.

Comment from Carl Thompson, (5/29/2014, 5:00 PM)

I have a question. First of all,I’m all for equal pay for equal work. My question is: If woman are better at the job and demand less money than men, why wouldn’t every employer drop the men on their payroll, and make more money on the bottom line? Asian American's are known to be diligent workers and stress education in their culture. Is it strange that Asian Americans have surpassed Caucasions in average salaries of working Americans. There must be something other than sexist bias going on. Could it be that most woman are not at work as many days per career as men? Just wondering.

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

NLB Corporation

base painters

Tarps manufacturing, Inc.

Modern Safety Techniques

PreTox Products - NexTec, Inc.


Quikspray, Inc.

Key Resin Company

Paint BidTracker


Technology Publishing Co., 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 2008, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL

The Technology Publishing Network

PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy Policy   |   Terms & Conditions   |   Support   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us