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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, March 3, 2015

#HearHerStory with Jessica Jeffery from General Motors

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. 

Jessica Jeffery
Senior Environmental Engineer
General Motors
#HearHerStory / @womeninmfg

Please tell our readers a little bit about your job and what your work looks like every day.
My job as an Environmental Engineer is to ensure compliance with all environmental rules and regulations, obtain necessary permits (air, water and waste), and implement and sustain community outreach activities including Wildlife Habitat Certification and GM Global Rivers Environmental Education Network.
A typical day includes working with team members to implement and maintain environmental management systems, planning projects such as how to reduce air emissions or planting of a wildlife habitat rain garden, collecting and reviewing air emission data and completion of regulatory reporting requirements.
How did you arrive at your current position?  What attracted you to a career in manufacturing?
Before joining General Motors, I worked on environmental due diligence and regulatory compliance projects for an environmental and engineering consulting company. While working for the consulting company, GM became one of my clients and I was instantly drawn to GM and manufacturing in particular because GM had the same values around environment that I do. I could make a positive impact by improving environmental performance, awareness and sustainability. Plus, working in manufacturing is a team sport and I thrive in that kind of work environment. Everyone works together to achieve the best product and it’s so cool to be driving one of those products. 
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?
In college as a female pursuing an engineering degree, I had to overcome the same challenges mentioned above.  I overcame the stereotypes by working hard, studying with other female students in engineering and with help and guidance of an excellent professor who became my mentor. When I encounter the dirty factory stereotype, I use it as an opportunity to educate the person about manufacturing and General Motors.  I explain that most manufacturing facilities are cleaner than a person’s home because of stringent quality and safety requirements.  I invite these folks on a tour of the plant (if possible) or refer them to the GM FastLane Blog https://fastlane.gm.com/ to read about all of the good things GM does like sending recyclable materials to Arts ‘N Scraps to create art kits for local school children or how 18 GM facilities use solar power. 
Research shows that women, especially women in STEM fields, do better if their have a mentor.  Has mentorship played any role in your career? 
Absolutely, mentoring has had a huge role in my career and I wouldn’t be where I am without the support of mentors. My mentors include friends, relatives (including my husband who is my biggest fan and harshest critic), and past and present coworkers. I find that it is key to have the mentoring support structure to provide unbiased advice and encouragement, improve self-confidence, help with problem solving and advance professional development. Not only is having mentors important, but you can learn so much by being a mentor.  Being a mentor gives me the opportunity to reflect on my own practices, enhances my interpersonal skills, and gives me the satisfaction in developing and supporting others. 
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?
Women who work in manufacturing need to educate through promotion and recruit younger females in high school to pursue STEM careers by attending career fairs, talking with high school counselors, and encouraging companies to open their doors for tours and mentoring programs.
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?
Yes, I would recommend a career in manufacturing.  A career in manufacturing is fast paced, challenging, well-paying and rewarding.  I grew up in Montana, which big industries include mining, agriculture and service-type jobs (very little manufacturing).  I stumbled into the manufacturing industry and I’m so glad that I did.  I love what I do and working in the manufacturing industry where at the end of the day I can look at the fantastic product and think I helped!  The people who work in manufacturing are a close-knit group who care about each other.  It’s the people who work in manufacturing that make it great.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

14th Annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day

Today marked the 14th annual Introduce A Girl To Engineering Day.

This year's theme, "There’s a Little Bit of Engineer in Every Girl," was celebrated on social media with the hashtag #BringItOut.

Businesses, universities, libraries and others offered workshops, tours and discussion sessions to reach girls across the country and introduce them to careers in engineering.

Here's a video about the campaign and this year's events:

Monday, February 23, 2015

WiM Director Profiled in Crain's Cleveland Business

Earlier this month, WiM Director Allison Grealis was profiled in Crain's Cleveland Business as part of their "Who to Watch in Nonprofits" series.

The profile piece describes Allison's early leadership experience in high school, college, and her first job as an organizer for the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group.

Asked about her roles at PMA and WiM, Allison said that finds her job "rewarding."  And she adds that she "finds inspiration in the people with whom she works, as well as in the successful, self-made manufacturers and the women in the industry she represents."

“I want to impact things to be different and more inclusive for women in years to come,” she said in the article.

Read the full article here.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Got 99 Problems...but Manufacturing Ain't One

This week, 24/7 Wall Street, released a list of the worst paying jobs for women.

The rundown includes 10 professions across industries from truck drivers and bartenders to financial managers and real estate brokers.

One sector not on the list?  Manufacturing.  

Manufacturing has consistently offered high salaries for workers.

This week, in an interview with Manufacturing.Net, Advanced Technology Services President Jeff Owens discussed salaries in the manufacturing sector.  "Perception drives many myths about manufacturing," he said.  "The largest one being that manufacturing jobs are not as professional or high paying as jobs that require a suit and tie.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Fact is, manufacturing salaries outpace retail jobs by a mile."

Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD) recently made the same point about the strength and stability offered by manufacturing.  "I think manufacturing is critical, frankly," he said in an interview with The Baltimore Business Journal.  "This kind of job is critically important if we're going to have a middle class expanding in America, if we're going to have the kinds of jobs that working Americans have traditionally held, paying them good salaries, giving them a good life."

During the 2014 WiM SUMMIT, we released a survey of over 870 women - including both experienced women currently working in manufacturing and young women who are just beginning to consider their career options.  One of the most significant findings was that women currently working in the manufacturing sector are pleased with their jobs.  More than 80% of the surveyed women in manufacturing today reported that their work is interesting and challenging and, importantly, half of the women said that compensation is the most significant benefit of the sector.

As women all across the workforce seek high-paying jobs, we'd encourage them to take a second look at manufacturing.

Monday, February 16, 2015

WiM empoWer from WiM-Wisconsin

WiM-Wisconsin has recently announced a new program, WiM empoWer.

Milwaukee Business News reported on the program saying it's "the first-of-its-kind...to serve as a resource geared toward increasing interest and inspiration in manufacturing careers for women."

The article notes that WiM empoWer works in three strategic ways:

• Connect leaders to mentees to cultivate relationships and experience;

• Partner with local schools to aid in program enhancement and education;
Photo from recent WiM-Wisconsin event
with Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch

• Design events and programs to inspire women, students and professionals to become leaders through the diverse opportunities within manufacturing.

Want to learn more?

WiM-Wisconsin plans for future programs to continue its mission of engaging women to share perspectives, gain cutting-edge manufacturing information, improve leadership and communication skills, participate in sponsoring programs and network with industry peers.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

FMLA is 22...Now Manufacturers Should Consider Paid Sick Leave

Today, there a record 67.5 million American women in the workforce.

And many of those women - a full four in 10 - are now either the sole or primary earner supporting their families.

But, despite these changing workforce dynamics, most American women still clock in for a "second shift" when they leave work and return home.  Research shows that even women with partners at home shoulder more of the responsibility for housework and child care.

These statistics are especially relevant for working mothers who, too often, are forced to make the difficult choice to stay home with a sick child and make the call (or send the email) informing bosses and colleagues that they won't be in the office.

A recent survey from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health showed that one-third of working parents with young children find it difficult to take time off from work to care for a sick child because they worry they may lose pay or lose their jobs.

The Family Medical Leave Act - which celebrates its 22nd birthday today - offers a limited measure of comfort on the question of losing a job.  Because of this law, passed in 1993 during the Clinton Administration, many working parents receive protected unpaid time off to deal with illness and other medial issues.

But 22 years later, this leave remains unpaid in most places and most jobs.

Statistics from the Institute for Women's Policy Research show that more than 40% of American adults working in the private sector do not have paid sick leave.  For these people, the choice to stay home is the choice to miss pay.

The Obama Administration has announced the intention to call on Congress to require companies to give workers up to seven days of paid sick leave a year.  The Administration is taking this approach because, to date, only a handful of cities and states have passed their own measures to guarantee that security to local employees.

Paid leave policies could be a valuable component for bringing more workers - espeically women workers - to the manufacturing sector.

President Obama recently said that the U.S. manufacturing sector is leading the way in putting Americans back to work.  "After a decade of decline," he said, "American manufacturing is in its best stretch of job growth since the 1990s."

But the industry continues to struggle with recruiting qualified workers.  With estimates showing that 600,000 skills jobs remain open in the manufacturing sector and that more jobs will open in the near future due to the aging workforce, the time is right for manufacturing to focus on ways to recruit new talent.

We recently released a survery of women working in manufacturing and young women who are just beginning their career search.  Our data showed that over 40% of young women entering the workforce today are looking for careers with flexible working practices.  By contrast, women currently working in the sector offered mixed feedback about whether manufacturing meets those needs.  Overall, responses tended to be positive on the evolution of the flexible workplace, but negative on the speed of making those changes.

As we move forward to addressing the skills gap in manufacturing, industry leaders should look at the issue of paid sick leave as one way to attract a valuable group of new employees - hard working women.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Latest WiM Chapter Events Make the News

Late last month, WiM held two events at Midwest chapters.

On January 22nd, we launched our professional chapter in Cleveland and held the group's first event - a tour of Lincoln Electric.

An article about the new chapter ran in the Plain Dealer.  The article quotes Lisa Habe who is president and chairman of the board at Interlake Industries as well as a WiM board member.

"We need people to come in at all levels and we need to appear more women-friendly," she says in the article.  "The concept is that you want to appear more women-friendly, because half of the workforce are women.  If it takes us to create an organization like this, then so be it. Obviously there's a need for it, because it took off."

The article quotes several other WiM members as well as our director, Allison Grealis, who points out that WiM serves an important role, especially for small to midsize manufacturing companies who struggle to find the resources to dedicate to supporting women in their organizations.

Throughout the piece, an important point is made clear - the focus on women is as good for companies and for the manufacturing sector as it is for women.

The article quotes Betsy Engels, the director of sales and marketing at Rapid Prototype Manufacturing and a WiM member.  "It's not just about getting more women into manufacturing, it's really about strengthening manufacturing by engaging more people," she said. "If you focus on women, you're expanding your talent pool."

Read the full article for coverage of the event and of WiM.

The next week, on January 26th, our Wisconsin chapter hosted a luncheon with a high profile keynote speaker.  Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch addressed the group and appealed to them in a special way.

"I'm the daughter of a manufacturer. I grew up literally playing hide-and-seek in between die cutters at an envelope factory," she said.

Asked what characteristics help women move up as leaders, Lt. Governoer Kleefisch answered frankly, "We need to assure that our young women can shake hands firmly, look people in the eye, have their elevator pitch mastered."  She went on, "Make sure that they are confident and they speak when they have a terrific idea, instead of holding it in. We need them to have the confidence and assertiveness of someone who deserves that next spot."

More on the event is here on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's All Politics Blog.

Vist our website for a complete list of upcoming events and to learn how you can get involved with WiM.