The Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee, in partnership with the YWCA and South Seattle College hosted the first-ever Women in Manufacturing Symposium at South Seattle College – Georgetown Campus, highlighting the training and career opportunities available to women in advanced manufacturing.
AJAC’s Executive Director Lynn Strickland (left) and AJAC Machining Apprentice Ebonee Heller (right) of Pioneer Industries
The symposium was led by a panel of women who are involved or currently work in manufacturing, including career navigators, apprenticeships and industry managers. The panel fielded questions regarding the role of women in advanced manufacturing and how AJAC’s pre-apprenticeship program, the Manufacturing Academy (MA), can boost their confidence and provide job-ready skills for a rewarding career. AJAC’s MA utilizes a comprehensive approach to retraining workers through 10 weeks of hands-on learning, soft skills training, insight into the industry, and applied mathematics.
The panelists debunked every myth in manufacturing, from the “dark and dirty” shop floor to the applied shop math. The most frequent question asked during the symposium rested on the presumption that manufacturing poses barriers to women including their lack of transferable skills, “you have to get in there and take the extra step,” said Donna Raz, a Manufacturing Academy instructor. The days of mindless heavy-lifting have been replaced by innovative techniques and state-of-the-art technology which some say, women are a better fit for. “Women have better hand-eye coordination and attention to detail,” said one panelist. These skills are ideal for many careers in manufacturing such as Quality Assurance and Maintenance Technicians.
Women – welcome back to manufacturing
Nevertheless, a booming industry requires a well-trained workforce, but how can an industry that is historically represented by men challenge the status-quo that women can play a role in manufacturing?
For starters, the industry needs to focus on empowering women to try something new and bold that takes them out of their comfort zone. It’s no secret, local manufacturers want to hire more women, but very few apply.
AJAC’s Technical Specialist, Teri Hegel demonstrates machining on a HAAS CNC VF 2
Advocacy for women in manufacturing is key to creating a more diversified and well-balanced workforce. Through conversation and encouragement, manufacturing has a strong chance to continue its reign as America’s backbone. Take on the challenge of building something new every day and as one panelist said “women – welcome back to manufacturing.”