[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.
Kristin 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.
‘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.’