Women Offer a Helping Hand

Women in Packaging provides support and encouragement to all packaging professionals, primarily to students and women.

The last few years have witnessed a slow drift away from women's-based or women's-agenda organizations. Perhaps as a result of women achieving more dominance in the work environment, the need for groups advocating primarily for women's issues appears to be less necessary.

However, attention still needs to be paid to women's issues, both general issues and those specific to the packaging industry. For example, the PMP News Salary Survey (August 2000) revealed that the average salary of women in healthcare packaging was $61,300, while men's average salary was $76,200. While this discrepancy is not necessarily the result of discrimination, and while salary is only one way to measure success, it is clear that women still have heights to reach in packaging.

Fortunately, helping hands are readily available. Women in Packaging (WP), a national organization founded in 1993, has been successful at both assisting women and supporting development for all professionals in packaging. This industry holds a lot of opportunity for women. WP, an 800-member organization with chapters in 11 major metropolitan regions, has operated with the belief that the emphasis should be on building professional skills and creating businesswide networks—that women with skills, experience, and contacts will succeed in the packaging world. WP's commitment to industry expertise has also attracted male members as well, who now account for 10% of the membership.

Although women have made strides in the packaging industry, they still have issues separate from men. These issues include the usual problems, such as coping with job stress and balancing full-time work with family. In addition, women in the packaging industry encounter problems specific to their career choice, such as learning to be comfortable when working with a predominantly male staff.

The mergers and acquisitions that are common in the packaging field these days can also cause anxiety for all employees, whether men or women. Through WP, packaging professionals have a place to turn to for information, encouragement, and advice. WP offers a mentoring program to match women who have experience in a particular area with those who need that experience. Mentors can help their colleagues make tough choices during a merger or when faced with office politics, for example. If newcomers to packaging can benefit from a more experienced professional, their chances of success are greater.

WP provides a Web site to allow busy professionals to make the most of their time. Members needing jobs or desiring job changes have been able to rely on both an effective Packaging Career Hotline, which lists available positions, and a remarkably effective member network. Besides providing a good base for development, the organization provides opportunities for industry visibility and leadership.

More benefits, such as professional discounts, newsletters, speaking opportunities, directories, and the like, are expected to further embellish this strong and growing organization. All in all, as a relatively new establishment, it has effectively met the wide and growing needs of its members.

For further information about the organization, contact Women in Packging Inc., 4290 Bells Ferry Rd., Ste. 106-17, Kennesaw, GA 30144-1300; phone 770/924-3563; fax 770/928-2338. You may send an e-mail message to PackWM@aol.com.

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