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Women in Manufacturing is a community created by Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) members and designed exclusively for women who have chosen a career in the manufacturing industry, and want to share perspectives, gain cutting edge manufacturing information, improve leadership and communication skills, participate in sponsoring programs and network with industry peers. Visit the Women in Manufacturing website.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tonight's SOTU: What to Watch For

President Obama will deliver his sixth State of the Union address tonight.  As we prepare for tonight's remarks, we are joining many others in reflecting on promises of SOTUs past.

In 2014, CBS News reminds us, Obama offered plans on several issues of interest to WiM.

First, job training for technical trades.

In his 2014 speech the president said, "I've asked Vice President Biden to lead an across-the-board reform of America's training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now..."

By CBS's measure, Obama pulled through on this goal.  The news outlet points to a report issued by Vice President Biden in September.  The report announced $450 million in grants to 27 community colleges, helping them to partner with employers and enhance programs that train students for jobs.

We'd add to this count the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.  The bipartisan bill, which was passed by both houses and signed into law in July, covers dozens of job training programs.  The legislation, “WIOA,” is part of ongoing efforts to close the skills gap in the U.S. manufacturing sector and enable employers to find and hire workers with the skills needed for competitiveness in modern manufacturing.

On the same topic, The Washington Post recalls the president's promise to launch six more manufacturing hubs across the country.  That plan was also successful.  15 manufacturing hubs will be created through The Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2014 which was included in the omnibus spending bill that waspassed in December and signed into law.

But, on another issue of significance to WiM, the president has not yet achieved victory.  A quick review of the transcript from last year's speech finds this quote, "You know, today, women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it's an embarrassment.  Women deserve equal pay for equal work."

CBS looks back over the year since that line was delivered and sees dismal progress.  While the president signed two executive orders aimed at eliminating pay disparities, the Senate was unable to reach a consensus and the "Paycheck Fairness Act" failed there.

As we approach this year's SOTU and look forward to the discussions and debates that will follow it, we hope the president and Members of Congress not only remember manufacturing, but also consider the many women who make up the sector' ranks.

We'll be watching this evening and over the next few days so expect reactions from WiM here.

Monday, January 12, 2015

WI WiM Chapter to Host Lt. Gov

An exciting WiM event is scheduled for two weeks from today in Brookfield, WI.

The WiM Wisconsin Chapter will host Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch for a luncheon on Monday, Jan. 26.

Lt. Gov. Kleefisch
WiM members and non-members are invited, and women from all levels of the manufacturing workforce are encouraged to attend.

The luncheon will take place from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Sheraton Milwaukee Brookfield Hotel - 375 S. Moorland Road in Brookfield.

11:00a - 11:30a  Registration & Networking 
11:30a - 12:00p  Lunch is served 
12:00p - 1:00p  Lieutenant Governor speaks

Learn more on the WiM website here:

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Guest Post: Puerto Rico: a Haven for Manufacturers?

Here's the next post in a series of guest pieces provided by WiM supporter, Foley & Lardner LLP.


By Rosana M. Gutierrez

Perhaps not surprisingly to those familiar with the tropical island, manufacturing remains a key driver of economic activity in Puerto Rico. Indeed, manufacturing accounts for 45% of Puerto Rico’s GDP (compared to 11% in the U.S.) and over 20% of the island’s jobs. Many U.S. multinational companies, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry, have chosen Puerto Rico as their home for manufacturing operations.

Why? There are five main reasons.

First, with over 50 years of experience in pharmaceutical manufacturing, Puerto Rico’s greatest asset is a skilled, experienced, yet inexpensive workforce. According to the experts, Puerto Rico offers the lowest labor costs within the U.S. with hourly rates in manufacturing averaging 65-80% of the continental U.S. average.

Second, location, location, location. Situated halfway between North and South America, Puerto Rico serves both continents. Also, Puerto Rico is closer in distance to Africa than the mainland U.S.

Third, as a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico falls within the U.S. legal framework and intellectual property protection. Thus, there is a certain familiarity and predictability for U.S. companies that you would not encounter in China or Europe.

Fourth, because Puerto Rico was and remains a long-standing manufacturing base for the pharmaceutical industry, companies can leverage the existing infrastructure throughout the island. From highways to airports to state-of-the-art port facilities, Puerto Rico has excellent connectivity within the island and to the rest of the world.

Last but certainly not least, aggressive tax incentives historically have attracted manufacturing companies to the island. Consider the following:
  • 4% income tax on industrial development income
  • 0% to 1% tax rate on income for pioneer or novel products manufactured in Puerto Rico
  • Up to 50% tax credit on purchases of products manufactured or recycled locally
  • Up to $5,000 for each job created during the first year

Some would argue that this “favorable” business climate was somehow muddied by Act 154, commonly referred to as the 4% excise tax.

Generally speaking, the law imposes a tax on the affiliates of Puerto Rican manufacturers that purchase goods and services from the Puerto Rican manufacturers.

To the contrary, according to the law’s drafters and Puerto Rico government, the tax burden, if any, on U.S. companies is minimal because Act 154 taxes would offset any U.S. tax liability by the same amount. On March 30, 2011, the IRS issued Notice 2011-29 to address this issue. Although the Notice did not offer a legal opinion, it stated that the tax was “novel” and that the IRS would have to study it. Meanwhile and until further notice, U.S. manufacturers in Puerto Rico could continue to credit the tax against their U.S. tax liabilities. Four years later, there has been no further notice by the IRS.

Low operational costs, a strategic location and a favorable tax climate have lured manufacturers to Puerto Rico for decades. While we are seeing increased competition from China and Ireland, given the current global marketplace for manufacturing,  Puerto Rico remains an attractive option, particularly for U.S. multinational manufacturers. 

This post originally appeared on Foley & Lardner LLP’s Manufacturing Industry Advisor blog. Subscribe to the blog at http://www.manufacturingindustryadvisor.com/

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

WiM Offers Predictions for 2015

In the latest issue of Crain's Cleveland Business, Northeast Ohio leaders weigh in on the year ahead.  One voice offering insight is our own Allison Grealis.  Check out the full article for predictions on topics including which industries offer the biggest opportunities and how the region can maxmize its growth potential.

Here are a few quotes from Allison:
  •  Overall, both of the organizations Grealis is involved in, the Precision Metalforming Association and Women in Manufacturing, want to see more men and women of all ages go into manufacturing as a career. Grealis also is looking forward to establishing a local chapter of Women in Manufacturing to offer training and support to the region.  And, she said, she’d like to see more regional sourcing within the manufacturing industry.
  • As a representative for two national associations, Grealis said she sees opportunity in the automotive industry. It’s an industry that many members of the groups serve. The non-residential construction and oil and gas industries also offer opportunity.
Read the full article here.

WiM SUMMIT 2014 Panelist Makes List of 30 Under 30 Reinventing Manufacturing

A Forbes list of rising stars in the manufacturing sector was released this week.

According to Forbes, the list - called 30 Under 30 Reinventing Manufacturing In A Greener, Tech-Savvier World - defies long-held stereotypes about the sector and shows that "the present – and future – of manufacturing is something altogether different."

We were pleased to see Natalie Panek on the list.  Natalie is an Engineer in MDA’s Robotics and Automation Division.  She was also a panelist at the 2014 WiM SUMMIT.

Photo of Natalie Paneck from Forbes
About Natalie, Forbes says -

Panek innovates products for the extremes of outer space, whether it’s a robot to service and repair satellites on-orbit or studying how lunar dust could create problems for a rover on the moon. She's also the first woman to race the University of Calgary's solar powered car (which she helped design and build) in a North American Solar Challenge.

Congratulations, Natalie, on this well-deserved recognition!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

#HearHerStory with Kiery Wilson from Post Foods

At Women in Manufacturing, we are committed to supporting women in the manufacturing sector. We firmly believe that mentorship and community-buildling will help attract and retain women in manufacturing.  As part of our mission, we feature on our blog the stories of women we admire who are currently working in manufacturing.  The following is the latest installment of our "Hear Her Story" series.

Kiery Wilson
Associate Food Scientist II
Post Foods
#HearHerStory / @womeninmfg

Please tell our readers a little bit about your job and what your work looks like every day.
I’m a food scientist in research and development with Post Cereal; right now I’m working on Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Pebbles and any new products in that brand. I develop new products and quality improvements for the Pebbles brand. Typically, I spend half my day working in the lab, trying out new formulas and the other half at my desk working on the computer. I work with ingredient suppliers, create specifications, develop formulas, order ingredients and attend meetings on our projects. I also plan and oversee plant trials, where we try out our formula and scale it up to the production facility. I also help troubleshoot issues in the production facility when the formula doesn’t scale-up quite the way we planned. Sometimes, I get to work on consumer information like taste testing, focus groups and developing questionnaires to better understand consumer wants or needs. Every day I do something different; it’s definitely not monotonous.

How did you arrive at your current position? What attracted you to a career in manufacturing?
I stumbled into Food Science when I was going to school at Brigham Young University. I started in a major that was not what I thought it would be and I felt I needed to find a job that could provide for me, and one day, my family. A job like that was definitely not possible with a Classical Studies degree. I scoured the majors list and didn’t see what would fit me, especially since I wanted a job that I would be happy to do every day. Tall order, right? I worked on my generals for the next semester and tried out the Introduction to Food Science class. I’d heard from friends that it was a fun, easy class, full of free food each week, so why not? After my second class, I was hooked. Now I can’t imagine what kind of job I’d be doing if it wasn’t food science!

At WiM, much of our work is dedicated to refuting outdated stereotypes about the manufacturing sector: stereotypes like the workplaces are dirty and dangerous and that the field and skills required are a better fit for men. Have you encountered stereotypes like these in your education or career and how did you overcome them?
I’ve encountered multiple stereotypes, but they’re less about manufacturing stereotypes and more about being a capable woman in the man-dominated industry of manufacturing. The majority of our department is comprised of women and we tell each other when we find sturdy, well-fitting clothes or shoes or safety glasses. Just because it’s a man’s world, doesn’t mean I have to dress like one! We’ve had to ask for women’s sizes when ordering uniforms because men’s sizes just aren’t meant for women. It can also be difficult making your voice heard when you’re 20 years younger and a woman. It’s a struggle to give input without coming across as overconfident and cocky. You have to craft your message carefully and sometimes you just want them to listen so you talk louder. Doing so will automatically kill whatever message you are trying to convey. Women have to work harder at managing their emotions when they’re angry or overwhelmed.

Research shows that women, especially women in STEM fields, do better if they have a mentor. Has mentorship played any role in your career?
Mentoring has played a huge role in my career. The first few years out of college, I didn’t have an official mentor, just colleagues I’d talk with sometimes. About a year ago, I realized I was unsure of how to handle a few situations at work and started looking for a mentor and asked a senior product developer. She and I meet to discuss any difficulties I come up against while at work and solutions. She has helped me strengthen areas I’m struggling in and taught me how to use my strengths to my advantage. It’s invaluable to have someone you trust to bring up things you could do better and help you learn the skills you need. It’s also very helpful to have someone who sees your interactions with others and can offer advice or correction for future situations. In the last year we’ve worked together, I’ve made great progress in my ability to handle difficult situations and in my confidence to deal with constant changes. It doesn’t need to be another woman, just someone who you feel comfortable talking with about questions or issues you have over the course of your work, someone to show you how to maneuver your way through promotions, raises, etc. You also may want to follow a specific mentoring guide as well, currently we are using “The Mentor’s Guide” by Lois J. Zachary. It is full of questions that can generate discussion and keep you from discussing the same thing over and over. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for your personal and professional development!

WiM recently unveiled new survey results. One of the key findings is that there is significant overlap between what young women want in careers and the attributes of careers in manufacturing today. But the survey also found that, too often, young women are not aware of the opportunities available in manufacturing. What do you think can be done to spread the word to women about career options in modern manufacturing?
Word of mouth is a powerful thing. I tell people about my job, everywhere I go, especially to anyone who is in high school or college and looking for a major. My husband tells people about my job, because he thinks I have the coolest job around, and together we encourage people to look into food science. It always surprises people when I talk about my profession because so few people know it’s a real job! I remember how I had never heard of it, and how amazing it was to hear about such a job. I want to give others that same opportunity. I always have a stack of business cards to give out with the offer to help answer any questions they might have about food science. Volunteering at any level of school is valuable. Teaching your kids and their friends about it is powerful. My sister-in-law just had a mad scientist birthday party for her 7-year-old and 12 of her friends. They did all kinds of science experiments and had a blast. We as women are the ones who decide what the next generation will be like and introducing students to STEM jobs needs to start earlier. If we want more women in the field we need to be visible to the world. Girls need mentors; they need to see someone doing a job and think, “maybe I could do that someday!” We need to volunteer, talk about our jobs and be accessible! Schools, girls’ groups, church groups, friends, family, our kids, even random strangers can all benefit from our willingness to volunteer, and influence the next generation of women in manufacturing.

Our survey also found that the majority of women in manufacturing today would recommend the sector to young women considering career options. Would you recommend a career in manufacturing? And, if so, why?

I never would have thought about a job in manufacturing when I was in high school, even in college! It never was something that appealed to me; I could only picture being a line worker and the drudgery that can come with that type of position, day in and day out. When I found Food Science and learned that I could be making new food products and live inside “How It’s Made,” I became much more interested. I didn’t realize that there were more than just line workers who work in manufacturing—it takes everyone working together: R&D, quality, engineering, operations, sanitation and more. Sometimes you get dirty, sometimes not. You’re not always in the manufacturing facility either. I go out a few times a week but spend the most time in my office and lab. I have a part in making food that influences people. What I make can influence others and I have a voice that wants to be heard.

Monday, December 15, 2014

WiM Mentioned in an AP Story about Manufacturers Seeking Women Workers

WiM was mentioned in a new AP article on manufacturers' efforts to recruit women employees.

The article says, "Some companies in need of welders, machinists and other skilled workers are now targeting women, who account for nearly half of the U.S. workforce but hold less than a third of the nation’s 12.2 million manufacturing jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics."

Pointing to a report by the National Women's Law Center, the article notes that "women’s share of manufacturing jobs peaked in the early 1990s, and remained mostly unchanged until the recession."

One reason for this problem?  The writer points to another piece of research: "A ... survey done for Women in Manufacturing, a nonprofit industry group, found that women ages 17 to 24 tended to see the industry as male-dominated and dull."

Read the full article to see how companies like Harley-Davidson and others are working to fight stereotypes that keep young women away.