Recap: Women in Manufacturing Pt. 1

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Women In Manufacturing Part 1

With guests: Allison Grealis, President of Women in Manufacturing & Karen Norheim, Executive Vice President of American Crane.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 – Tim and Lew sat down with Allison Grealis and Karen Norheim to discuss the evolution of women in manufacturing and how to create, develop and maintain a strong presence of women leaders throughout the manufacturing industry. Women are currently greatly under represented within this industry and it not only hurts social development but is a great weight on the industry itself. As well as the gender gap , the industry is currently struggling with a shortage of skilled workers that are up for the task of being employed in this highly advanced field. Manufacturing has long been perceived as a dirty and dangerous job and what comes into the mind for many when hearing the word manufacturing is a thought of smokestacks and dull labor. But this is a misrepresentation of what the industry has become.

We begin by speaking with Allison, asking her about the upcoming Women in Manufacturing summit which will be held in Minneapolis Minnesota on September 23 – 25th. This is annual summit will span two and a half days and over 300 women are expected to attend the event. The event will host a verity of keynote speakers, panel discussions, professional development tracks, networking opportunities and plant tours. There is a serious need to attract and retain women in the manufacturing industry and this organization is making strides to break down the gender barrier that has been built up around the manufacturing industry.

Karen, our second guest, is introduced and is asked how she got her start in this male dominated industry. At the start Karen was recruited by her father to come and work for his company, she was hesitant at first but ended up embracing the opportunity and she said ” It turned out to be one of the best career moves for me and one of the best decisions of my life”. She has now been working in the industry for 13 years. At first her perception of the manufacturing industry was the same as the public’s, she thought it would be dull and boring but soon her view of manufacturing was changed forever. She hopes more people can start to understand that a career in manufacturing can be a rewarding and exciting and that more women will consider a career in the manufacturing industry.

Tim mentions that the public’s perception of the manufacturing facility is that of a dark, dirty and dangerous environment. He asks Karen “How much of you r factory is operated by computer these days?”. She says that most of her machining is all handled by computer programming but is still mixed between “The fine art of fitters and welders” that work hands on to fill their custom orders. This is a great representation of what makes up the manufacturing industry. There is still a need for a hands on approach in some areas but the work is assisted by highly technical systems that increase safety and productivity. “But our entire bossiness is run by technology” Karen states.

Women represent half of the overall workforce but only a fourth of the manufacturing workforce. Allison goes into what she believes to be the main reason for this disconnect. “Unfortunately many women don’t understand the opportunities that manufacturing offers” Allison explains. One of the main goals of Women in Manufacturing is to better educate the public about the different career opportunities that are available for them in the manufacturing industry. The manufacturing industry has transformed into a highly advanced industry where technology is a crucial component for every business that manufactures products. She moves on the mention the skills gap, another problem the manufacturing industry is facing. Allison speaks about how introducing more women into the manufacturing industry can begin to add talented and skilled workers to the industry which is a top priority for many. “There are more women that are graduating with four year degrees, more women are interesting in high-tech position” Allison explains. Recruiting and retaining more women will help solve two problems at once, the gender and skills gap.

This is just the beginning of an incredibly important discussion we had with Allison and Karen. The full, hour long podcast is available here: and is only Part 1 of a 2 part serious Manufacturing Talk Radio will be hosting. There are also information on Women in Manufacturing as well as both our guest speakers available on the site. Don’t miss this informative and interesting discussion on the gender gap in the manufacturing industry with two amazing women in the industry. Manufacturing Talk Radio, bringing you the latest news, trends and issues in manufacturing industry.

Tune in to “Women in Manufacturing: Part 2” Tuesday, September 8th, at 1PM ET right here on Manufacturing Talk Radio