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How to get more women interested in packaging

Valerie Lovelace, training manager for Perrier Group of America’s Poland Spring, Poland Spring, ME, talks about what she believes it takes to get more women involved in the business of packaging.

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PW: What are some of the biggest challenges in getting women interested in package manufacturing or engineering? Lovelace: I almost think that it’s just something, early on in a girl’s life, nobody considers. I don’t think our schools are geared towards getting women interested in things like that. A lot of times it’s just left up to the child to decide, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ And then, all of a sudden, that kid will find herself in high school talking with career counselors about what to do or what school to go to. Maybe they don’t feel prepared. Or maybe they’ve never been exposed to it. I don’t think it would occur to a young woman on her own to become interested in packaging as a career.

PW: What do you think should be done to spark some interest? Lovelace: I would love to see a mentoring program starting in either junior high or high school for girls to be able to go out and job-shadow in technical environments. We did job shadows last year with one of our local high schools and it worked out really well. The kids came to the plant and spent the day. We had some technical classes that they participated in. And then we had a tour. I had one girl job-shadow me for the day that was really interested in going into training or human resources. And since I am the training manager here as well, that fit with what she was interested in. It was great!

PW: Any other ideas you have to get girls interested in this business? Lovelace: I think they need mentors. They can’t be afraid of math. They can’t be afraid of science. It’s still traditionally a very guy-type thing to go out and do. I’d like to see parents step up too, and say ‘what if you wanted to do something else.’ And I think our society is getting much better about that. Back in my day when I was growing up and I wanted to swing a hammer or turn a wrench for a living, that was just something that girls didn’t do. —ALR

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