Women Belong in Manufacturing


New video, study guide encourage young women to consider manufacturing careers

By Dave Conrad

Something’s missing from manufacturing’s resurgence in America. Cutting-edge technology is definitely there. Demand is high for new and improved products and services. Innovation and innovators are welcomed and wanted. Strong pay, benefits, and opportunities exist.

So what’s missing? According to manufacturers, they can’t find enough skilled workers. And the fact is many of the most talented people in America aren’t even looking at or considering careers in manufacturing: women among them.

Why aren’t women exploring the incredibly diverse, challenging, and fulfilling work opportunities available in manufacturing?

It could be they don’t know that a world of opportunity even exists or that manufacturing offers them prospects for a solid and lucrative future. Or maybe they think manufacturing is a “man’s world.”

Shredding Stereotypes, Dispelling Myths

A new DVD-based project from CBIA’s Education Foundation, funded by the Connecticut Community Colleges’ College of Technology’s Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (COT-RCNGM): a National Science Foundation center of excellence: intends to shred stereotypes and dispel myths by telling, cajoling, encouraging, and convincing women from all walks of life that they belong in manufacturing.

In fact, the name of the project is “You Belong: Women in Manufacturing.”

As America recovers from the Great Recession, the good news is that more than 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been created over the last three years. But most: more than 70%: are being filled by men, even though women comprise more than half of the nation’s overall workforce.

Today, only 15% of students enrolled in manufacturing degree programs are women.

The truth is, women can make a significant impact on America’s economy and quality of life through manufacturing. By and large, however, they just don’t know it.

Recognizing the Opportunities

The “You Belong” DVD is a powerful introduction to manufacturing today. It features profiles of successful young women in manufacturing: including a research and development engineer, operations manager, quality manager, test technician, mechanical design engineer, and welder.

It also includes interviews with women in Connecticut who have risen to major positions within established manufacturing companies in the state.

“We need to encourage women at any age to consider a manufacturing career because the opportunities are tremendous,” says Karen Wosczyna-Birch, COT-RCNGM executive director. “This DVD and teacher guide will help women see realistically what the opportunities are and how they can prepare for these careers through the College of Technology.”

The package’s teacher guide (for 7th-12th grade educators) will further equip educators to encourage young women to consider manufacturing.

“There are so many opportunities in manufacturing today that can provide women with a rewarding career pathway,” says Judy Resnick, executive director of CBIA’s Education Foundation. “The DVD shows several women who are enjoying success in manufacturing and making a major contribution to their companies in the process.”

There’s a world of reasons for women to explore today’s modern manufacturing. Now, with this new DVD and study guide, there shouldn’t be any more excuses for women not knowing about or pursuing those careers.

Dave Conrad is a senior writer at CBIA. He can be reached at dave.conrad@cbia.com.

CBIA thanks its member companies who participated in this project, including Trumpf Inc., Whelen Engineering, CAMM Metals, UTC Aerospace Systems, Dymotek Inc., Cooper-Atkins Corp., Eppendorf Inc., and Schwerdtle Stamp Company.

For more information, contact CBIA’s Mary deManbey at mary.demanbey@cbia.com or click here.

For updates on CBIA’s education and workforce development programs, click here.

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