Women’s Work

By Karen Bitz McIntyre, Editor | October 20, 2009

Last month, Polymer Group Inc., one of the world’s largest nonwovens producers, broke new ground in the nonwovens industry.

No, PGI did not start building a new plant—the move was more symbolic. The North Carolina-based company hired a woman to serve as its CEO, making it the first major nonwovens producer to do so.

A look around any conference or trade show floor easily illustrates the lesser role women have played in the nonwovens industry to date. Not only are women absent from top leadership positions, their role is quite limited in the industry as a whole. Sure, in the past couple of years more women have begun to pop up throughout the nonwovens supply chain, but progress has been slow and the good ol’ boy network still runs strong in nonwovens.

This is why it is so impressive that PGI has taken this pioneering role in the hiring of Veronica Hagon as its new CEO. Surely, her presence at the top of one of nonwovens’ largest and most influential companies will help pave the way for more women in this industry. Not that Ms. Hagon is not well qualified for the role. She has had more than 25 years of extensive operations and global industrial experience with large, international public companies, most recently serving as president and CEO of Sappi Fine Paper North America. I am sure there are many more women like her that could prove valuable to our industry.

Speaking of women’s role in nonwovens, this month Nonwovens Industry brings you our second annual Salary Survey, a look at what people earn and how they feel about what they earn. The results of this survey reinforce women’s lesser role in the nonwovens industry. Of those that responded, only 20% were woman and of those, only 3% indicated they worked in upper management at their companies. Even more interesting was the fact that not a single female responder admitted to earning more than $150,000 per year and only 10% said they make more than $100,000. Meanwhile, 9.3% of male responders make above $150,000 and 21.9% earn between $101-$150,000. Clearly there is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to women in nonwovens. For more on the results of our salary survey, turn to page 82 or visit www.nonwovens-industry.com.

As always, we appreciate your comments.

Karen Bitz McIntyre