Wanted: More Woman Engineers

Published On: August 31st, 2023|Categories: Blog|

Women in Engineering and Manufacturing

I recently received an email leading to a post about the contributions of women in the Southeast Minnesota Workforce.

I also recently saw posts about Womens’ Equality Day (August 26th) and the Anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving women the right to vote.

All causing me to reflect on the fact that since leaving college, I really have not had the opportunity to work alongside a lot of women.

Before my engineering days, I worked in more service-oriented positions. Through high school and college, I worked in restaurants, I was a lifeguard and taught swimming lessons. I was also a dormitory head resident (HR) in college. In all those positions I worked alongside women. I also had a woman as a manager during college HR days, our Director of Residential life. (She was a big influence and we stayed in touch right up until she passed away recently).

After graduation it was a whole different story. My first engineering position out of college we had a woman in our group (one of 5 engineers). I was only at that company 9 months, and it would be 3 years before I worked with another female engineer. That pattern continued through my engineering career until I moved over to the business side of manufacturing. At that point, I worked with a small number of women (being in manufacturing), and I worked for two women in there, (a VP and an Owner). Still,  I only need the fingers on one hand to count the number of woman engineers I worked with in over 40 years. Fortunately, that doesn’t quite fit with the general population historical trend. The numbers are up since I graduated but growing woefully too slow.

Even branching out to the “not engineering” workforce does not help the situation much. According to the post I read about women in the SE MN workforce, over half (52.7%) of jobs in Southeast are held by women. Unfortunately, when you drill down to the individual industries, (follow the link to see the chart) *Manufacturing is only 29.2% female. I would say that is representative if not higher than what I have experienced throughout my career (which has ALL been in manufacturing).

From an article in the Harvard Business review, “Despite efforts to attract more women to the field, engineering educators have focused on curriculum reform (e.g., by promoting girls’ interest in math and science). While these efforts have brought in more women to study engineering, the problem is that many quit during and after school. Focusing solely on education doesn’t address the fact that women tend to leave the profession at a higher rate than men. Women make up 20% of engineering graduates, but it’s been estimated that nearly 40% of women who earn engineering degrees either quit or never enter the profession. Clearly, some elementary and high school reforms are working, but those at the college level are not.”

Sadly, we are not much different here at PlastiCert. Our ratio here is 25% female, less than the region average. Of the degreed engineers on site, all are male. One bright spot is we have a woman in an executive leadership position. Our Vice President of Operations, who has been with us here entire career. She currently runs Production, Human Resources, Materials, Production Control, Purchasing, Information Technology (IT), Customer Service, Shipping & Receiving.

Bringing on more women is a priority at PlastiCert. Whenever we get to speak to High School students, we extol the benefits of working in Manufacturing.

  • Advanced manufacturing paid 12% more than other U.S. industries.
  • Among private industry employees,
  • 84% received retirement benefits,
  • 90% had healthcare benefits,
  • 95% accumulated paid vacations.
  • S. manufacturing workers made an average annual salary of $95,990.

Including that the majority of careers in manufacturing are NON-TECHNICAL. (Although we want and NEED more woman engineers!)

If you are a parent, and helping your daughter look at possible career opportunities, visit a local manufacturer. Come visit PlastiCert!


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