BERT MAES

The Future of CNC Manufacturing Education – CNC Manufacturing, Education Reform & Change Management News.

Archive for the ‘Women in Manufacturing’ Category

10 ways to attract women to manufacturing

Posted by Bert Maes on March 25, 2010


After publishing the popular blog post “ways to enhance teens’ interest in manufacturing” a reader pointed me to a specific key problem we are facing today: attracting women to manufacturing. That is indeed a great topic to write about.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are widely regarded as critical to be competitive in the global economy. Just over 4% of the workforce is employed directly in science, engineering, and technology. This relatively small group of workers is considered to be critical to economic innovation and productivity.

So, expanding and developing the STEM workforce is a critical issue for government, industry leaders, and educators. A key challenge is attracting women to manufacturing. Men continue to outnumber women. The difference is dramatic, with women earning only 6,7% of bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering. In a 2009 survey only 5% of the girls said they were interested in an engineering career. But…attracting and retaining more women in the manufacturing workforce will maximize innovation, creativity, and competitiveness.

The report “Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics” (by the American Association of University Women), bringing together eight recent research conclusions, addresses why there are still so few women in manufacturing, despite the fact that women in engineering tend to earn more than women in other sectors; despite the fact that many STEM careers can provide women increased earning potential and greater economic security.

TO PARENTS and TEACHERS

It is a psychological belief in our culture that … women lack the aptitude to succeed in STEM fields.

Hearing or sensing such thoughts and misconceptions in the immediate environment is affecting individual career choices! It is simply breaking down girls’ self-confidence in their math and science ability.

Many girls believe that they are “not good” in math and engineering, because they just notice in our culture that women in manufacturing careers are inappropriate. It is a societal expectation for girls to consider future education and careers in the humanities, life and health sciences or social sciences rather than engineering fields. A survey with more than a half million people from around the world has shown that more than 70 percent of the test takers associated “male” with science and “female” with arts. The idea that girls aren’t good at science is simply floating in the air we breathe. This is how we prevent girls and women from pursuing engineering. Such implicit beliefs directly influence parents’ decisions to encourage or discourage their daughters from pursuing science and engineering careers.

FIVE (5) SOLUTIONS

First, girls today are even earning slightly higher grades in math and science! However, the false belief that girls are not as capable in math and science as boys actually lowers girls’ test performance. To avoid failure, girls simply avoid math and science altogether. If girls do not believe they have the ability to become an engineer, they will disengage from STEM as a potential career and choose to be something else.

  1. When schools, workplaces, the home environment and individuals send the message that girls and boys are equally capable of achieving in math and science, girls are more likely to assess their abilities more accurately, are more likely to succeed and are more likely to see manufacturing as a viable career choice.
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  2. Teachers have to learn the girls in their classrooms that intelligence is changeable, developed through effort, dedication, persistence and challenges. The more teachers and parents can show self-improvement (and not inherent ability) as the road to genius, and the more they can help girls to enjoy that effort, the more confident, the more interested and the more excited they will be.
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  3. Manufacturing skills are perfectly acquirable for girls. Math skills, but especially “spatial skills” (such as mental rotation of objects, mechanical drawing, sketching multi-view drawings of simple objects) is seen as essential to success in engineering, because these skills are needed to interpret diagrams and drawings. It is a fact that in “spatial thinking” men consistently outperform women. Many girls leave their engineering education, frustrated because they can’t cope with this aspect. However, a practical training course in “spatial skills” improves the average scores in such tests from an average score of 52% before taking the class to 82% after taking it. Offering this kind of training in middle school or earlier will make a big difference in girls’ choices. They will be more likely to develop their confidence and consider a future in a STEM field.
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  4. Those spatial skills are also developed by encouraging children to play with construction toys such as Legos, take things apart and put them back together again, play games that involve fitting objects into different places, draw, and work with their hands. This actually gives an immediate, strong engagement and intense connection with engineering from an early age. In fact, according to Bayer, interest in engineering begins early childhood, i.e. by age 11!!

Second, many girls are not interested in manufacturing, as too often the training programs are focused on the machines, the technical aspects of programming, and not on the broader applications. As a result many girls leave their STEM education early in their school careers. 60% of a Bayer survey of 1226 women cited that the school is the leading place where discouragement from pursuing a STEM career happens. According to 70% elementary school teachers play a bigger role than parents in stimulating and sustaining interest in engineering.

  1. Teachers (and parents) forget to project manufacturing specialists as people making a social contribution, as people beneficial for society, as problem solvers of some of the most vexing challenges of our time— tackling global warming, providing people with clean drinking water, developing renewable energy sources, designing many of the things we use daily—buildings, bridges, computers, cars, wheelchairs, and X-ray machines. That expansion of the field makes manufacturing more meaningful. Curricula have to be redesigned with adding introductory courses that show the wide variety of manufacturing applications and career opportunities.

Bayer concludes that the top three causes/contributors to underrepresentation in STEM include

  • Lack of quality science and math education programs  (75%),
  • Persistent stereotypes that say STEM isn’t for girls or minorities (66%)
  • Financial issues related to the cost of education (53%)

Dr. Julie Martin Trenor concludes there are still many barriers for women:

  • Confidence in math/science abilities
  • Poor math preparation
  • Lack of K-12 engineering courses
  • Lack of female engineering role models (90% know an engineer) or few role models available in the public eye. Engineers are rarely portrayed in prime time television, unlike lawyers (in Law & Order) and Doctors (in Grey’s Anatomy, E.R., House)
  • Parental encouragement
  • Peer pressure to go into “popular” programs
  • Negative messages, gender-biased attitudes exist everywhere

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TO COMPANIES: FIVE (5) RECOMMENDATIONS:

Job satisfaction is a key to retention of women in manufacturing. Female STEM specialists express lower job satisfaction than do their male peers. This lower satisfaction leads to a loss of talent in manufacturing. In high-tech companies, more than 41% of their female employees quit their jobs (compared with only 17% of their male employees) by midcareer – about 10 years into their careers.

  1. Isolation and lack of mentoring are particularly acute source of dissatisfaction. For women in STEM good professional and personal interactions with colleagues, management interest in their professional development are critically important for women.
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  2. The ability to balance work and family responsibilities also contributes to overall satisfaction. For many women in manufacturing it is difficult to just pack up and go home, as they see that as deadly for their careers. Many women have the impression that to be successful, they have to achieve exceptionally high levels to be noticed among all those men. It is important to create reasonable work schedules and to not penalize women for reduced productivity while having young children.
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  3. Child care is a huge issue in this. Establishing universal, high-quality child supports work-life balance and is critical to female job satisfaction.
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  4. When a woman in manufacturing is being successful, she is immediately judged as cold, pushy, too macho and not charming enough. When a woman is clearly competent in a “masculine” manufacturing job, she is considered to be less likable. The big problem is that being disliked appears to have clear consequences for evaluation and recommendations about reward allocation, including salary levels, ie. their overall career outcomes. So in the manufacturing industry, women have to do MORE than men: they have to be competent ànd tough ànd understanding ànd concerned about others ànd helpful ànd increase her employees’ sense of belonging, etcetera. There is a need for fairness of evaluation: clear criteria for success, clear rules about advancement and transparency in the evaluation process.
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  5. Expose local school students to the female employees in your company, who can describe the lives of female engineers, who can talk about the people-oriented (away from the antisocial geek image) and socially beneficial aspects of engineering, who can help students see their struggles in class as a normal part of the learning process rather than as a signal of low ability… who can show girls that female engineers can be successful. You can find a few examples in our section “Women in Manufacturing
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Bayer and Dr. Trenor conclude that the leading workforce barriers for female manufacturing specialists include

  • it is harder for women to succeed in their field than it is for men (70%)
  • managerial bias (40%)
  • company/organizational/institutional bias (38%)
  • lack of professional development (36%)
  • no/little access to networking opportunities (35%)
  • lack of promotional/advancement opportunities (35%)
  • Isolation
  • To attract women to manufacturing the field and profession should be socially-conscious, application-driven, and team-based.

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Posted in Solutions, Statistics, Women in Manufacturing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

[Portrait] Women in Manufacturing – Klara Kaczkowska

Posted by Bert Maes on November 4, 2009


Women can make a real difference in manufacturing. Today, there is nothing more relevant for our society than making things, creating technology, with a female eye for detail.

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Klara KaczkowskaFor the past 2 years, Klara Kaczkowska has worked as a CNC machine tool engineer with Abplanalp Consulting: A highly successful Haas Factory Outlet (HFO) in Warszawa, Poland.  From an early age Klara was always inquisitive about how things were put together, so it didn’t surprise her friends and family when she chose to study for a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, and then a career in what is still a relatively male dominated industry.

“I got a lot of admiration from my family and friends for choosing to follow a career path that is a little unusual for a woman,” she explains. “For me, it felt great to know I was doing something I loved, but that was also a little bit different from the norm.” As a child, Klara enjoyed helping her father, who was a car mechanic. “When we were working in his garage I became used to technical terminology which gave me such a great grounding for my later studies.”
In addition to her current work commitments at HFO Abplanalp, Klara has also found time to continue with her education and in July of this year she finished her second phase of studies: A Masters degree in Management and Production Engineering.

Klara’s role at the HFO is split between two areas: She works part of her week as contract manager, where she uses her extensive professional knowledge to advise on technical documentation for Haas machines; the other half of her week she works as a technical assistant.

“I definitely prefer the time I spend as a technical assistant”, she says. “I have been lucky that this part of my role has always linked well to my educational back ground.  This is my first permanent job and my experience with Abplanalp over the last 2 years has done so much to help me acquire more practical knowledge of CNC machine processing.  This is what I’m truly interested in.”

Klara has also been involved with the development of Haas Technical Education Centres (HTECs) in Poland.

“The HTEC program provides a good CNC machine tool education for students and it’s great to be part of creating a friendly environment to encourage students to practice their skills. Among other things, I’m involved with helping to raise the awareness that the equipment needs to be updated on a regular basis to ensure that the students are continuing to train on current models; I firmly believe that this up-to-date knowledge is essential grounding for their futures as precision engineers.

Klara works hard to encourage others like her to overcome the perception that the machine tool industry is stereotypically for men, and to pursue a rewarding and exciting career in the sector.

“I’m very proud of my achievements as an engineer,” she says, “and I’m eager to progress even further with my professional development. Whenever I get the chance I encourage other women to take up the challenge, as I did.  It is such a great industry to be in and offers many opportunities for both men and women alike.”

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[Portrait] Women in Manufacturing – Melanie Cattaruzza

Posted by Bert Maes on August 14, 2009


Women can make a real difference in manufacturing. Today, there is nothing more relevant for our society than making things, creating technology, with a female eye for detail.

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Melanie editSince August 2007 trainee service engineer Melanie Cattaruzza has been working at Urma AG – Switzerland’s Haas Factory Outlet (HFO) – while she simultaneously pursues formal studies in mechanical engineering.

Melanie’s day-to-day activities complement her education and also expose her to a wide variety of tasks and training that are helping her learn about an industry that, she says, she has grown to love.

“My daily routine usually starts with the documenting of coolant lubricants in all of the machines,” says Melanie. “I will then either be doing CNC milling, turning or drilling work-pieces based on blueprints I am given. It varies every day.”

Melanie is in her 2nd year of a 4-year mechanical engineering course and takes one day out of each week to attend her classes. Throughout every step of the program, Urma supports her training, and the company managers mentor her and eight of her colleagues. “What we cover on the course is pretty extensive”, she explains. “I have to produce many work pieces from the Urma production program and each one has to demonstrate a knowledge of materials, programming, production planning, manufacturing and quality control.”

“After passing her intermediate examination in June 2009, Melanie is looking ahead. She says, “Next, I would like to continue my training in CNC mechanical engineering.”

Urma has an attractive manufacturing training program, so I have lots of opportunities to develop my skills further. My goal is to work for the Haas Factory Outlet in a service technician role. Or, I may take my career further in the direction of general manufacturing.”

Traditionally, the machine-tool industry has been a male-dominated environment, but times are changing as more young women like Melanie discover that oily workshops and outdated technology are things of the past. “I always wanted to work with machines,” Melanie explains. “When I was very young I liked to tinker around with motorbikes, with my older brothers. I wasn’t interested in playing with dolls. I became curious about how parts were manufactured and it was this that ultimately led me to enroll in the introductory course at HFO Urma.”

When she isn’t at work, Melanie still indulges her love of two-wheels by competing in Supermoto street races on a 250cc, CCM motorcycle. Whilst her choice of career and past-time may not be typical for a young woman, Melanie says her friends and family are very supportive. “It’s cool being a woman and taking part in what many regard as men-only activities,” she says. “People are often surprised at my choices, but when they get to know me they can see how much I love what I do.”

For other women interested in getting a start in precision engineering and the CNC machine tool industry there are multiple paths to choose from but Melanie has chosen one with formal training and the very latest technology at its core.

“I know that gaining a good educational foundation will help to make me a valuable employee”, she explains. Training with the very best technology will also pay dividends.

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Since August 2007 trainee service engineer Melanie Cattaruzza has been working at Urma
AG – Switzerland’s Haas Factory Outlet (HFO) – while she simultaneously pursues formal
studies in mechanical engineering.
Melanie’s day‐to‐day activities complement her education and also expose her to a wide
variety of tasks and training that are helping her learn about an industry that, she says,
she has grown to love.
“My daily routine usually starts with the documenting of coolant lubricants in all of the
machines,” says Melanie. “I will then either be doing CNC milling, turning or drilling
work‐pieces based on blueprints I am given. It varies every day.”
Melanie is in her 2nd year of a 4‐year mechanical engineering course and takes one day out
of each week to attend her classes. Throughout every step of the program, Urma supports
her training, and the company managers mentor her and eight of her colleagues. “What
we cover on the course is pretty extensive”, she explains. “I have to produce many work
pieces from the Urma production program and each one has to demonstrate a knowledge
of materials, programming, production planning, manufacturing and quality control.”

Posted in Women in Manufacturing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

[Portrait] Women in Manufacturing – Jo Ann Mitchell

Posted by Bert Maes on August 12, 2009


Women can make a real difference in manufacturing. Today, there is nothing more relevant for our society than making things, creating technology, with a female eye for detail.

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JoAnn#1Jo Ann Mitchell is a woman forging a career in the male-dominated world of machine tools, working as a Machine Investment Support Specialist for world-leading tooling company and Haas Technical Education Centre (HTEC) program partner, Sandvik Coromant.

As well as her day-to-day responsibilities, Jo Ann’s role gives her the opportunity to work with the local HTEC in Allendale, New Jersey, USA: an involvement with grass-roots engineering education that she relishes and speaks about with a passion.

“Being involved with the HTEC program and sharing its commitment to the success of precision engineering students is very gratifying,” she says. “It gives me huge, personal and professional satisfaction that Sandvik is an HTEC partner and that I’m able to see students developing problem solving skills in both theoretical and also practical situations.” Before working for Sandvik, Jo Ann worked as a teacher so education is a subject that is close to her heart.

In addition to holding down a full-time career, Jo Ann is also studying for an MBA and recently submitted a course-work paper entitled Doing Well by Doing Good: an examination of the Haas HTEC network and its positive benefits both to the California based machine tool builder and also to participating students.

“The MBA assignment was to present a company that – while profit motivated – creates something for the general good, or for a particular segment of society,” she explains. “Several of us at Sandvik Coromant had been working with the HTECs prior to this assignment and the chance to address the value of technical education to the student and the sponsoring company seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.”  Jo Ann’s enthusiasm for the subject matter obviously shone through: her submission gained her an A-grade and very favorable comments from her tutors.

Jo Ann’s parents worked in industry, which meant choosing a career in precision engineering seemed very natural. “There was a time when generally, women were not encouraged to pursue science or engineering as careers,” she says. “ I was very fortunate to have very technically minded parents. They encouraged my curiosity and helped with my kitchen-table experiments! When I was very small, my family went to the World’s Fair in New York where I spent time watching a chemical engineer make nylon out of materials poured from two test tubes. I have been fascinated by how things are made ever since

There is no doubt that Jo Ann’s experience in machine tool technology and in education, both as a student and an educator, makes her a perfect mentor for other up and coming HTEC students.

Engineering allows you to problem solve with some of the most innovative and smartest people on the planet.” She says, “This has been my experience since childhood, but not everyone is so lucky.  That’s why I enjoy working with the HTEC program. It gives me the chance to share some of my experiences with up-and-coming students”

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[Portrait] Women in Manufacturing – Kristin Alexandersson

Posted by Bert Maes on August 10, 2009


Women can make a real difference in manufacturing. Today, there is nothing more relevant for our society than making things, creating technology, with a female eye for detail.

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FemaleStudentsKristin Alexandersson is a rarity: a young woman building a successful career in the typically male dominated world of CNC machine tool sales. For three and a half years, she has been working as a CNC machine tool sales engineer for Haas Factory Outlet (HFO) Edströms Maskin in Jönköping, Sweden.

Kristin originally studied social psychology. But, soon after she completed her course her career took an unpredicted turn towards engineering when she discovered a 2-year post-graduate course in industrial leadership and automation.

‘I never considered a career in precision engineering or manufacturing when I was thinking about my study options’, Kristin explains. ‘The idea was never presented to me in an inspiring way and my early impressions of industry were not favourable.

‘When I applied for the job at Edströms I didn’t know much about the machines I would be selling,” she explains, “but my university course had given me a good foundation and it was this, and my study of automation, that appealed to the company.

’ Kristin also works on Edströms’ HTEC program in Sweden, acting as an intermediary between schools and the HTEC partner companies, as well as organising seminars for the students.

‘The HTEC program is a brilliant and positive program for young people interested in engineering”, she explains. “We are working to increase the number of students who are enrolling but I would also like to work with the HTEC to reach out to more female students as I think the industry has so much to offer them.

Kristin explains, ‘as a woman, I am in the minority in engineering but this actually works very well for me. Because it’s unusual for my clients to deal with women, I think they remember me. Making an impression is important in sales and it is a tough environment so I feel that being a women certainly helps keep me in the forefront of people’s minds.

Inadvertently, Kristin has become a role model for female engineering students at Edströms’ HTECs and hopes to encourage more of them to embrace a career in engineering.

Today’s manufacturing industry is hi-tech and stimulating,’ she says. ‘I think all of the reasons why women traditionally wouldn’t have considered engineering careers have been eliminated. These days, it’s a knowledge-based profession men and women can do the job equally well and also earn the same money. The HTEC program is definitely helping to get the message out and also to provide the next generation of female engineers with the support they need.’

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