The steel industry has historically been a male-dominated sector. However, the number of women in the industry has been growing, and as the largest steelmaker in the world, we have been working to increase the number of women interested in the field, as well as recruiting more engineers and preparing more women for advancement and promotion in our own business.
One way we reach out to women is by sending female engineers out to give talks at University-level engineering departments such as Purdue University, Ohio State University, Penn State University and Colorado School of Mines. We want to inspire young engineers with the future they could have in steel. Some of our employees are visiting middle schools and high schools to talk to children about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, in the steel industry. We also work with qualified female engineers through the Society of Women Engineers, to promote opportunities and careers in the steel sector.
Mary Lynn Gargas-South is the human resources director for our steel business in the US producing ‘flat’ steel, such as that needed for car doors, sheet piles and steel coils. When she began working for us, she was the only female in a group of 200 employees. Now about 20% of the salaried or managerial employees are women, and 10% of the hourly workers.
Mary Lynn says, “We’ve got women who have worked here their entire professional careers, who paved the way for future generations to carry the torch. They provided future generations with the opportunities to take that torch.”
Role models like Mary Lynn are working hard to show women and girls that the steel sector is exciting and dynamic sector to work in.
Toni Brown is a maintenance technician for the hot strip mill at our Burns Harbor site, and started working in the industry in 1977. When Toni first started at the mill, she wasn’t warned about the cold, and developed frostbite in her first week. “I’m just glad I stuck through some of the hardships because I don’t think I could work anywhere else and be as satisfied as I am today,” she says.
After working in the coke ovens in temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees celcius, Toni took charge of an important project to install energy-efficient lighting in the hot strip mill. This would save $1.4 million over the next decade. “It’s much easier today for women who come in the industry… They can do whatever they want to do out here. The doors are wide open.”
There are career opportunities across the whole spectrum of roles in the sector, ranging from hourly to managerial. At ArcelorMittal, women hold the top positions in sales and marketing, and they lead teams, including the global automotive teams. As Mary Lynn says, “The sky’s the limit. Women can rise as far as they want to go.”