This month we take a moment to recognize and acknowledge the vital role that women play at American Water to celebrate Women’s History Month. Like many industries, the water utility industry has been and continues to be shaped by the women who work for our company.
Recognizing Women in Water and Wastewater History
Looking back, women have played a large, and often unrecognized, role in the journey of water and wastewater services. In fact, their contributions are dated back to sometime between the first and third centuries A.D., when Mary the Prophetess was believed to have invented the Bain-marie (or double boiler) as well as other devices considered precursors to those used with liquids, specifically water, in alchemy today. Fast forward to the 1880s, when Ellen Swallow Richards performed a series of water tests on 40,000 local water samples that served as drinking water for immediate populations and was able to create a map that plotted the chloride concentrations in waters in Massachusetts. As a result, the state established the first water-quality standards in America, and the first modern sewage treatment plant was created in Lowell.
These are only two examples that demonstrate how women have impacted the industry and have played key roles as thought leaders. We’re grateful for their contributions, as well as the fact that women are making impactful contributions as leaders in the water and wastewater industry.
Our Female Leaders Today
At American Water our chief leadership positions are held by women who are leading the way and breaking down barriers in the industry. We’d like to take a moment to introduce you to these impressive leaders.
President, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Melanie M. Kennedy
Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer
Senior Vice President, Communications & External Affairs
Valoria V. Armstrong
Chief Inclusion Officer and Vice President External Affairs
Vice President & Chief Environmental & Safety Officer
Vice President & Chief Customer Officer
Chief Accounting Officer
Vice President & Chief Labor Employment and Commercial Counsel
Vice President & Chief Rates and Regulatory Counsel
Encouraging the Next Generation
As of January 1, 2022, women account for 24.1 percent of American Water’s workforce. While we are proud of the progress that has been made, when it comes to gender diversity in the water and wastewater industry, we know there is more work to do. According to The Brookings Institution, although women make up 46.8 percent of workers across all occupations nationally, they account for only 14.9 percent of the water workforce.
At American Water, one of the most important things we can do to address this disparity is encourage the next generation of women in the water and wastewater industry to continue to grow, seek opportunities, and succeed. Here are just a few ways that we work to inspire and support future female water workers:
- Investing in community organizations. By investing time and resources into organizations supporting the professional development of youth, we are helping to build a bridge between women in our communities and the water industry, including women of color.
- Encouraging mentorship. We place a strong emphasis on continued mentorship, both inside and outside of company walls. By sharing experience, advice and networking opportunities, women in the water workforce today can support their future colleagues.
- Increasing role model visibility. One way for young women to feel welcome and at home in the industry is to see other women not just in the industry but thriving in it. We’re proud to have many female employees and leaders representing not just our company, but the industry, out in the world every day.
This month, the American Water team honors and celebrates all women, past and present, in the water and wastewater industry—and we’re excited to see what’s to come. Cheers to these incredible women!