Celebrating Women in Manufacturing

March 8 was International Women’s Day (IWD). Around the globe today, women will be celebrated for the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also serves as a call to action to accelerate gender parity.

The theme for IWD 2022 is “Break the Bias,” encouraging people to work against stereotypes and biases against or about women in the workplace and beyond.

One such bias: the manufacturing industry is almost universally male-dominated, is old-fashioned and hangs on to gender biases including excluding women from leadership roles.

Not so, say women working at JM.

“Our corporate culture places a high importance on inclusivity,” IS Product Engineer Chanel Charbonneau told SprayFoam.com last year. “The emphasis on inclusivity starts from the top and results in an environment with a lot of ingenuity. The difference it makes is clear.”

In a recent interview with members of JM’s diversity and inclusion employee resource group WIN @JM – focused on women in the workplace – Vice President of Global Procurement and Logistics Kath Vigars said she had identified JM as her employer of choice long before she became a JMer. Having worked for other manufacturing companies, Kath said JM had something special.

“I had my eye on JM – it's a great company with a great reputation,” she said, noting she is seizing opportunities to build relationships and expand lines of communication to grow her business knowledge and ensure she makes an impact.

Women represent about 30 percent of the 15.8 million-strong workforce in the manufacturing industry, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Women hold one quarter of the leadership positions available in the industry today and, according to an industry study by Inventionland, women manufacturers earn more than their peers in other industries by about $5,000.

From working on the production line to running the company, women occupy many of the same jobs men do today in manufacturing.

“Many outstanding women leaders are making huge strides in building and promoting the manufacturing industry and are demonstrating what modern manufacturing offers – rewarding and fulfilling careers with limitless opportunity for growth,” says Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers. “Today’s manufacturing employees are building and designing the future, and women in manufacturing serve as ambassadors to move this industry forward.”

JM has made it a priority to grow the ranks of women in the company from the production floor to the C-suite. Among its 2022 focus areas, JM is committed to delivering a 10 percent year-over-year improvement in hiring, retention and promotion of underrepresented groups, including women. That commitment seeks to build on the strides JM has already made, having increased the number of women and people representing marginalized groups being hired, promoted and serving in leadership roles.Women working at JM are taking notice.“I chose a career in manufacturing because it is dynamic and I’m constantly learning new things,” said Laurel Naser, a Project Engineer in Roofing Systems at JMTC. “The industry is moving forward toward making the workplace better for women. Some examples include designated pumping rooms, flexible work hours to allow for family time and promoting more women in leadership roles. I really enjoy the sense of community within JM and am excited for its future.”

We would like to recognize the female team members that represent our Roofing Systems Leadership.
Brandi Duncan - Director of Human Resources
Jennifer Ford-Smith - Director of Product Management and Marketing
Mandy Schweitzer - Owner Services Leader
Tesha Kroll - Director of Commercial Services and SIOP
Zebonie Sukle - Director of Technology

These women lead by example every day and we are so happy to have them continue to pave the way for women in our industry and beyond.

Women Leaders in Manufacturing

1. Rosie the RiveterPictured on the famous "We Can Do It" propaganda of World War II, Rosie the Riveter was more of a cultural icon than a real person. Norman Rockwell created the image to show the strength and ability of women during World War II. Rosie the Riveter became a symbol of women's power during World War II. The idea fueled the women workforce, encouraging them to break the traditional stay-at-home lifestyle and work in factories to support the war effort. Today, spin-offs of the image are utilized to represent the power and equality of women.

2. Madam C.J. WalkerMadam C.J. Walker is well known for being the first African American woman millionaire. She created a line of hair care products catered to African American women. The enterprise she built not only sold to women but also hired them. Maker's Row states that many of her employees were women, and by 1917 the company had trained 20,000 women on how to run a business and become independent. Madam C.J. Walker used her wealth to fund scholarships and charities that helped women learn to be their own bosses.

3. Katharine BlodgettKatharine Blodgett was a scientist and inventor who was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in physics. According to Biography, she used her knowledge to support the military during World War II by researching gas masks and technology for de-icing airplane wings. She invented a non-reflective glass used in submarine periscopes during the war. Today, the glass is used in many products, including but not limited to eyeglasses and car windshields.

4. Stephanie KwolekStephanie Kwolek invented Kevlar, a heat-resistant, strong fiber utilized in many items. According to Maker's Row, Stephanie worked at a chemical company where she researched how to turn polymers into synthetic fibers. She worked with polymers that formed rows instead of random ones, which led to the creation of the thread in Kevlar that is as strong as steel. With this discovery, Kevlar is used in items today such as suspension bridges and helmets.

5. Margaret KnightMargaret Knight, also known as "the lady Edison," was one of the first women to receive a patent. She patented a machine utilized to cut, fold, and glue flat-bottomed paper shopping bags. Before her machine, individuals were performing the process by hand. According to Biography, Margaret received several patents for various inventions created to support manufacturing plants.

Source: MAU Workforce Solutions