BASF employees receive Women in Manufacturing STEP Ahead Awards

Two BASF manufacturing employees, Sheila Chickene (left), vice president of manu

Two BASF employees – Sheila Chickene, vice president of manufacturing, catalysts division, and Jacki Partain, site reliability engineer at the Port Arthur site – were among 130 women honored nationally by The Manufacturing Institute during the Science, Technology, Engineering and Production (STEP) Ahead Awards gala on March 26 in Washington, D.C.

The STEP Ahead Awards are part of a larger STEP Ahead initiative aimed at examining and promoting the role of women in manufacturing. BASF leaders participated in a series of meetings led by The Manufacturing Institute and sponsored the STEP Ahead awards ceremony on March 25-27 to determine ways to attract, develop and retain female talent in manufacturing.

“We congratulate Sheila and Jacki and all of the STEP Ahead Award recipients for being exceptional employees as well as excellent ambassadors for the manufacturing industry,” said Greg Masica, VP and site manager of BASF TOTAL Petrochemicals LLC in Port Arthur. “This effort will require a holistic approach that includes increased outreach to young girls and a focus on development of female leaders in manufacturing.”

Partain received the Emerging Leaders STEP Ahead Award, which was launched this year to recognize new employees who have excelled early in their careers. Partain was instrumental in establishing a reliability improvement platform for BASF’s site in Port Arthur, as well as a craft-specific training program on rotating equipment for maintenance technician team members.

Chickene has served in a variety of roles over her 25-year career in manufacturing. In addition to serving as vice president of manufacturing for BASF, she is chair of the company’s North American Manufacturing Community Steering Committee. Chickene has a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Bradley University, a master’s degree in engineering management from University of Massachusetts Amherst and a doctorate’s degree in management from University of Maryland University College.

A recent survey from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute found that 80 percent of American manufacturing companies have a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified workers. Contributing to this gap is the underrepresentation of women in the industry. Women make up approximately 50 percent of the labor force, yet comprise only about 25 percent of the manufacturing labor force.