March Celebrates Women in Manufacturing
March is dedicated to celebrating women who’ve had a hand in shaping equality. During Women’s History Month, it’s important to look back on the achievements of history’s strong female role models, but we should also look ahead to the future women are shaping today.
The manufacturing industry offers a small glimpse into women’s history. Join us in celebrating Women’s History Month and the ongoing achievements of women in manufacturing.
Breaking manufacturing stereotypes
The manufacturing industry has a reputation as a male-dominated field, but women continue to work to dispel this notion and replace it with a model of inclusion. Roughly one in three manufacturing workers are women — a figure significantly higher than it was even 20 years ago.
And a growing number of female role models are paving the way. From CEOs, like Mary Barra at General Motors to leaders, like A.J. Jorgenson, vice president of strategic engagement and inclusion at The Manufacturing Institute, women in leadership roles are a voice for inclusion and a force for change in manufacturing.
But women are doing more than taking on new industry roles. They’re also fighting for parity. By closing gender pay gaps, battling discrimination, and driving innovation efforts, women are defying manufacturing stereotypes and replacing them with new standards and norms.
Resources for women in manufacturing
As more women break into manufacturing and pursue careers that take them to new heights, they’re finding, and creating, more resources. Organizations devoted to helping women succeed in manufacturing include:
- Women in Manufacturing. This organization provides career support and resources to women seeking to pursue long-term careers in manufacturing.
- The Manufacturing Institute. This worker support organization isn’t solely devoted to women. It is focused on helping all minority groups gain a foothold in manufacturing.
- SME. SME celebrates the triumphs of women in manufacturing and strives to support women with resources, opportunities, and educational tools.
These national organizations are supplemented by countless local and regional groups committed to helping women achieve everything they’re looking for in their manufacturing careers.
Manufacturing is better because of women
It wouldn’t be right to celebrate women in manufacturing without recognizing some of the individuals who changed the trajectory of the sector and the world at large. These women paved the way for the female workforce of today — and tomorrow — from engineers to line workers, in sectors as diverse as pharmaceuticals, fabricated metals, and aerospace manufacturing.
Notable women in industry and manufacturing recognized by SME include:
- Katharine Blodgett was named to the National Inventors Hall of Fame after a long and storied career with General Electric. She was a physicist, a chemist, and the inventor of non-reflective glass.
- Alicia Boler Davis is a manufacturing engineer and the first African American woman to work as a plant manager for General Motors. She has since moved on to become Amazon’s senior VP of global customer fulfillment.
- Linda McGill-Boasmond is a chemist whose company manufactures chemicals for, among others, the agriculture and aerospace industries; she “is the first and only African American woman in the United States to own and operate chemical manufacturing plants.”
- Yvonne Brill is a National Medal of Technology and Innovation recipient for her engineering work on rocket propulsion. She invented the rocket thruster that keeps satellites in orbit.
- Lillian Gilbreth’s industrial engineering work lives on today in the form of functional improvements to everyday manufactured goods.
- Kate Gleason was the first woman to join the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
- Diana Trujillo is an aerospace engineer leading the team in charge of the Perseverance rover’s robotic arm. She “hosted the first-ever Spanish-language NASA transmission of a planetary landing.”
We celebrate Women’s History Month in recognition of every woman in manufacturing and their collective efforts to make the industry better for everyone.