Published: August 28, 2020
Published: August 28, 2020

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‘Diversity Makes the Technical Sectors Stronger and More Competitive’

Continuing our celebration of International Women in Engineering Day, we’re proud to share the inspiring stories of Claire Fisher, Cindy Kutchko, and Jennifer Roeder who all work in Ohio, US. Together, they are examples of how to challenge the outdated concepts of the gender stereotyping of engineering roles… and redefine them.

Claire Combines Creativity and Problem-Solving Skills

Claire Fisher joined PPG in 2018 and is a development engineer in the Global Resins Group, working on future-state projects for automotive and industrial electrocoat products.

I appreciate how this role allows me to combine my creativity and problem-solving skills. I decided that I wanted to pursue a degree in chemical engineering when I was in seventh grade and never looked back on that decision!

Being so enthused about her job, Claire also supports Junior Achievement, a non-profit organization that helps prepare young people for their future.

I think it is important to spark interest in young females to explore careers in engineering. Through their activities, I’m able to share my own story and hope to encourage others to follow a similar path.

Cindy Finds Joy in Constant Learning 

Cindy Kutchko joined PPG 32 years ago and now leads a technical group in the additive manufacturing process (3D Printing) at Allison Park.

I am very passionate about new sustainable technologies and learning continuously, something I find incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. Learning motivates me, which I consider my number one strength, so a researcher career is perfect for me!

She also enjoys exercising with her daughters, and they often take part in charity walks and runs for cancer research, a cause very dear to her heart.

 Jennifer’s Passion in People Development

 Jennifer Roeder joined PPG in 1995 as an engineer but is currently our Substrate Protection Systems operations manager at the Cleveland plant.

She is motivated by improving systems as well as developing people and watching them advance in their careers.

I love that every day is different and that I work with a wonderful team across many disciplines.

Having enjoyed being a scout when she was younger, she now gets involved with the scouts in a leadership capacity and loves being part of the growth and development of kids: “Scouting continues to give me opportunities to build on strengths and takes me outside my comfort zone.”

Get Your Voice Heard, Even as the Only Female in the Room

The technical sectors are often considered “male”, and, at the start of Cindy’s career, she would have agreed: “I remember after my first big presentation as a young chemist looking round the room and realizing I was the only woman in a group of fifteen.”

 She does feel things are changing, however. Whereas Jennifer feels the sector is still male dominated as she still often finds herself the only female in the room. 

I have learned to claim my space in these settings so my voice can be heard.

Claire finds herself in a similar position, but doesn’t like to consider it a male-dominated space: "Women are equally powerful as men in the technical sector, even if there are fewer of us at times."

Women’s Leadership Council Driving the Power of Diversity

All three feel very supported as female professionals. It was Claire’s dad who encouraged her interest in a STEM role. “Fortune favors the bold,” he used to say.

She is now encouraged by the number of women in a wide variety of roles and is proud to serve on the steering committee of the Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) in Ohio.

It is a powerful network of women helping to attract and retain other women in PPG.

At PPG, Cindy feels the trends changing “starting with leadership”. Jennifer agrees and is appreciative of PPG’s support for the WLC as well as the opportunities provided by the corporate group and individual chapters. She sees our company adopting progressive positions such as parental leave and more working-from-home opportunities.

PPG, and the technical sectors, will be stronger and more competitive when there is a diverse collection of voices at the table. 

Be Your Own Advocate

What advice do our successful engineers have for newcomers to the field?

Claire believes in never being afraid of asking questions, even if you think they’re ‘stupid’. Cindy considers it important to be your own advocate and to get a mentor.

Map out your own career path and talk to someone about it. Don’t think that it is just going to happen.

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