Breaking Through The Glass Ceiling
Although most in-plants are still run by men, these managers are helping to pave the way for women to find opportunities in printing.
By Mike Llewellyn
AT ONE time, the copy center at University of Minnesota Printing Services was underutilized, while the offset presses got all the attention.
Then along came digital technology, says Director Dianne Gregory.
As digital printing became increasingly cost-effective, it just so happened that the copy center had the required expertise to make it successful. Gregory, who oversaw the copy center at the time, was in the right place to advance along with it.
"When I first started, the [offset] printers always ruled the meetings because they were the big guys. But then copying started to grow incredibly fast," she recalls. "The industry changed, and I ended up really knowing that industry well."
Today, more women than ever are taking on leadership roles in the printing industry and in in-plants. This year's Top 50 shows that nine of the country's 50 largest in-plants are run by women. And as more women step to the helm of these shops, others are sure to follow.
But back when Gregory started in printing in 1976—beginning in the bindery before moving up to press operator, then manager of duplicating services—it wasn't an easy ride.
"When I came to the printing plant it was all men," she says. "They didn't think I knew anything about printing."
It was a challenge women throughout the printing industry were facing in the '70s. Academia was still reeling from the publication of books like "The Feminine Mystique" while women across the country were often fighting for more autonomy than what the role of post-war housewife and mother offered.
Even Reproductions Review (IPG's previous title) had run an article seven years earlier, in 1969, titled "The Boss... Is A Lady." Although it noted that women were assuming leadership roles in many in-plants, the male writer couldn't curtail his excited sputtering about their looks: