Forging a Future: Women Impacting Today’s Steel Industry

As an important part of the global economy, many people look to the automotive industry as a trendsetter in the worldwide workplace. Much like the automotive industry, the steel industry has been historically male-dominated since its inception. It didn’t change much until World War II, when Rosie the Riveter told American women they were capable of holding their own, women began to expand their roles outside the home. Though many women left those jobs once the war was over, some stayed, and the notion of women working alongside men gained acceptance. Fast-forward to today, and whether it’s in management, in distribution or in the factories, women are rubbing elbows with men in today’s steel workplace more than ever. In honor of Women’s History Month, we wanted to highlight women that are making an impact in today’s steel industry.

“Advanced high-strength steels help us put the right material in the right place.”
– Theresa Klix, Head of Metallic Materials Engineering,
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

FCA’s head of metallic materials engineering, Theresa Klix, started off as a product development engineer for body structures. Now, she oversees metallurgists and material experts as director of the NAFTA Engineering Standards group, which harmonizes engineering standards across the globe. She talked with us about why Steel Matters to her in a short interview, seen above.

SMDI_Women in Steel_Elizabeth Krear

Keeping within Fiat Chrysler, Elizabeth Krear has an absolutely vital job within the company. She’s the chief engineer of the Ram 1500, the highest-selling vehicle in FCA’s portfolio. She was profiled in a previous blog post after being awarded SMDI’s Industry Innovator award at the 2015 North American International Auto Show. She used Advanced High-Strength Steel in key areas during development of the Ram 1500 that helped it achieve the best gas mileage in its class for fuel economy. Whitney from Be Car Chic sat down with her in 2015 and picked her brain about what drove her to where she is today.

SMDI_Women in Steel_Jackie Stachowski

A mother to four children, Jackie Stachowski of Nucor started out as the youngest-ever metallurgical service engineer in LTV Steel’s history, rising quickly to a role in technical sales before joining General Motors. Now, she is president of the Association of Women in the Metal Industries’ Detroit chapter, where she is helping younger women along the trail she blazed, while encouraging them to forge their own pathway to success. Read more about her in last year’s Mother’s Day Blog Post.

“We’re very lucky to have someone of her caliber aboard, and I’m lucky to have her in my organization.”
– Kevin Doyle, Environmental Division Manager,
ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor

Ensuring that her company keeps the area around it as sustainable as possible, Simonne Benoit is a true asset to ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor, according to many of her compatriots. “The things that she does, work-wise, not only benefit us as a company,” says Kevin Doyle, environmental division manager, “but Northwest Indiana as a whole.” She created a zero-discharge water system that keeps used water inside ArcelorMittal’s ecosystem, rather than discharging it into Lake Michigan. Read more about her in this NWI Times feature.

SMDI_Women in Steel_Brandie Sebastian

The environmental sustainability data created and analyzed by the American Iron and Steel Institute, its partners and other industry members is an important asset to both the steel and automotive industries. By conducting research and building upon knowledge of life cycle data, Brandie Sebastian continually strives to be an agent of change across the steel industry. In her role as the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Manager at the Steel Recycling Institute, she has been instrumental in developing processes and resources for understanding how steel and steel products affect the environment throughout their life cycle. Primed by a background in environmental engineering, she has helped create Environmental Product Declarations for various steel products, conducted LCA studies of automotive lightweighting, serves in leadership roles in LCA and sustainable materials organizations, and continues to improve the data and methods on which the foundation for steel life cycle research resides. She largely credits her success to female mentors at every step of her education and career. Through mentorship, she says, “I learned how to truly value myself and find the courage to take the leap when exciting, yet challenging, opportunities presented themselves.” She’s paying that mentorship forward by helping develop young women in the sustainability field!

SMDI_Women in Steel_Deanna Lorincz

Serving as SMDI’s Senior Director of Communications for six of her 16 years at the Institute, Deanna Lorincz has made her mark by boiling down complicated technical information into language that is easy to understand – even if you’re not a metallurgist. She leads SMDI’s communications strategy with the steady hand of more than 20 years of experience. Deanna was responsible for planning, implementing and launching the inaugural Great Designs in Steel conference in 2002. Under her leadership, it has since become the largest materials-focused event in the world, propelling the visibility of advanced grades of steel to new heights. She credits her success as an advocate for steel to implementing appropriate communications strategies to inform customers about the superior performance advantages of steel, and would advise young women looking to make headway in the industry to “constantly challenge yourself” and “keep an open mind to new ideas.” She’s truly an example of hard work paying off!

There are thousands of women we haven’t mentioned who are impacting today’s automotive and steel industries – from the factories to the boardrooms – balancing work, support of their communities and family. Women’s History Month is a time set aside to recognize them and how they contribute to a better industry. We encourage you, our readers, to join us in honoring women across the world!

Know any other women who are making an impact in the steel and/or automotive industries? Which of these women are most inspirational to you? Leave us a comment and let’s chat!

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