By Andrew Karp Group Editor, Lenses and Technology

Every year, when VM puts together its annual report on the Most Influential Women in Optical, I reflect on the special meaning it has for me. As the only man on VM’s editorial staff, I am surrounded by influential women.

Our art director, senior editors, executive editor, editorial director—even our summer intern, are all women. They shape the form and content of this magazine. And, to an extent, they have shaped me, too.

These are smart, capable, hardworking professionals. They put in countless hours together in the office, at trade shows and on the road. They shlep through airports at five in the morning, wait for taxis in the rain and drink leftover coffee while proofreading pages until they are red eyed, making sure every comma and period is in the right place.

Seeing my colleagues give their best, issue after issue, month after month, year after year, inspires me to want to give my best. The fact that they are women rarely enters the picture. When you’re working on deadline, struggling to come up with a clever headline or searching for the perfect image to illustrate your story, it doesn’t matter how many x or y chromosones you have, it’s how talented you are that counts.

That same point came across with the women I interviewed for this month’s cover story. (See page 49) Each is exceptionally good at what she does, whether it’s running an optical lab, heading up a business unit or landing a new account. Each cares a great deal about getting the job done right. And each made the point, in their own way, that they are proud to be working in an industry devoted to helping people see better.

How would my experience over the past two decades have been different if I had worked alongside a bunch of guys? Would we have bonded over guy stuff like football, cars and fitness? I’ll never know. All I can say is I’m glad to be working alongside a group of women who have had a positive influence on me while also influencing the way our industry sees itself. ■