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Women in Manufacturing: Where they are and Where they're Going.

In today’s working world, it is not uncommon to see women at work in almost any field. It is commonplace for women to work hard and find fulfilling successful careers in the same capacity as their male counterparts. In 2016, women totaled 47% of the workforce in the US.

However, it is not as common even today to see women at work in hands-on fields, such as manufacturing. In the same year, women only totaled 29% of the manufacturing workforce. This can be for many different reasons that are socially constructed, but what is important to know is that the number of women in manufacturing is on the rise and those women who do have careers in manufacturing are making big differences.

Currently there are programs in place to provoke the prospect of a career in manufacturing in next-generation professionals, like the STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Ahead initiative. The assistant vice president of strategic engagement of the National Association of Manufacturers, AJ Jorgensen, says “we calculated just over the last five years that all of our STEP Ahead honorees have truly touched and impacted over 300,000 people.“ They reached these 300,000 by visiting high schools and mentoring young girls. This is great news for the industry as a whole because there is a lot to look forward to.

Calvert-Copeland has been running her father’s packaging manufacturer, Professional Image, since 1991. Nine years later she founded A Specialty Box, which manufactures high-end gift packaging. Then, in 2013 she founded a 3-D design and printing company, ProImage 3D. According to Calvert-Copeland believes there should be more emphasis on and exposure to the creativity that exists in the science and engineering spheres, on the combination of functionality and aesthetics. This may pique the interest of more young girls who care a lot about these two things. She poses the question, “why don’t we start making an art class for building functionality and making things operate and run? I think that will then open up the curiosity in somebody’s mind.”

According to AJ Jorgensen, “if we could close the gender gap by 10 percent, we would close the skills gap by 50 percent.”

That is a huge margin of improvement that a tiny margin of women can make on an industry that supports the entire economy of the United States. Now if that is not enough incentive to make you want to give your daughters a 3D printer for Christmas, I don’t know what else would be.

(Sources: Casey Smith Tulsa World May 2017, Deloitte Analysis 2017)

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