4 Tips for Women Getting Started in Manufacturing

4 Tips for Women Getting Started in Manufacturing

Distefano’s Kelsey Orendach, a welder who is attending Metro Community College in Omaha

There’s a definite place for women in manufacturing today–one that many people aren’t actually aware of.

Especially as the industry changes, technology changes, and companies continue to adjust to operate with a workforce that’s currently shrinking, we’re starting to see more and more women in manufacturing.

The problem is, even though there are many women in manufacturing today (and more positions that involve technology and precision instead of manual labor), there aren’t a lot of resources out there for women who are interested in getting started in manufacturing.

To help, we thought we’d put together a short list of tips for women who are considering pursuing a career in manufacturing:

  1. Find a mentor. If you’re going to do nothing else in your search for a career in manufacturing, do this: find a mentor. There are plenty of women in manufacturing around (the image attached to this blog is of Kelsey Orendach, a welder at Distefano in Omaha), and getting in touch with them is a great way to ease you into the process. Although anyone (men included) can help answer most of your questions about manufacturing, there’s no denying the usefulness of being in contact with a woman who has hands-on experience in the industry.
  2. Don’t rule out a position because it has historically been a “man’s only” job. Sure, manufacturing has historically been a very male industry, but that’s changing. Hearing about a career like welding and thinking of it as a job only for men will cause you to miss out on a lot of great positions. As ThomasNet notes, “it used to be that welding was 90 percent brawn and 10 percent brain, but by 2020 that will change to 80 percent brain and 20 percent brawn, and women are a strong part of that [equation].” The same is true for many careers, so don’t rule anything out because of the image you associate with it.
  3. Look for resources online. If you’re having trouble finding a manufacturing mentor who is a woman, don’t be afraid to turn to the internet for resources. The web can provide a lot of diversity and expertise, which is very useful if you don’t know of any local women in manufacturing. Women in Manufacturing is a great resource, and there are a number of other places to look for information all around the internet.
  4. Don’t get discouraged. Not matter where you are in the process of your career search, it’s very important not to get discouraged. There’s a growing spot for anyone–not just men–to pursue careers in manufacturing, and that’s only going to become more true as time goes on. Forbes says it best when they say that “wrong perceptions of manufacturing have impacted women’s desires to join the ranks of manufacturers.” The only way to overcome that problem is by getting out and getting involved, and that can only happen if we’re all persistent.

Historically, most people saw manufacturing as a profession only for men, and even today, some people still think the same thing. Most people who work in manufacturing today are still men, but with manufacturing these days being so technical and precise, what matters is the education and skills–not who’s doing the work.

Although getting started in a career in any field can be difficult, we hope that our tips can make the process easier for anyone who wants to join the growing number of women in manufacturing today.

Our expertise here at NeMAC is in manufacturing education, so don’t be afraid to contact us in the comments or on Twitter if you have any questions about our tips today! We have even more information to offer to anyone who’s interested, so just get in touch with us and let us know if you need help.

Photo credit: Brynn Anderson via the Omaha World-Herald