Women in Manufacturing

AJAC | Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeships


Washington State has 7,972 active apprentices, but of these only 1,654 are women, a notable 10%. Women manufacturers have overcome obstacles and proven that they have what it takes to work in the advanced manufacturing industries.

Read their stories about what inspired them to pursue a career in manufacturing and the steps they took to be successful.

Kailey Harding, AJAC apprentice

Kailey Harding | Machinist

For Kailey, the industry as a whole can do a better job of marketing manufacturing to women. “It’s really not influenced. You don’t see advertising to say ‘Hey, females, work here!’ It is a big growth process to get to where I am today. Overall, it is a morale boost going to AJAC. You’re learning different things throughout the four years and every time you learn something new, you can take it back to work and apply it.”

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Woman youth apprentice at AJAC

Raquel Taijito | Youth Apprentice

During her sophomore year at Stadium High School, Raquel’s engineering design teacher encouraged her to enroll in AJAC’s Youth Apprenticeship program as a Production Technician. After submitting an application and completing two separate interviews, Raquel was hired at Tool Gauge and subsequently became the first woman as a registered Youth Apprentice in manufacturing. Fast forward to 2019. Raquel successfully completed her two-year AJAC Youth Apprenticeship at Tool Gauge.

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Rachel Bertapelle, woman apprentice

Rachel Bertapelle | Maintenance Technician

“The apprenticeship program has been great so far. I’ve learned quite a bit, particularly on the mechanic side and new techniques I did not learn at Perry Tech. I’m not just focusing on engines and motors, I’m learning more about the pumps and other equipment commonly found in an industrial maintenance environment.”

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Selene Castro, woman apprentice

Selene Castro | Manufacturing Academy

Castro learned about AJAC’s Manufacturing Academy through her case manager and decided to start her journey towards her new career. She got a part-time job to supplement her income and started the program in October 2019.

She came into the program with little background knowledge, “I know so much more than I knew when I came here, I learned so much. I knew how to read blueprints but I had no clue about the math behind it all.”

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Aurelia Greene, woman apprentice at AJAC

Aurelia Green | Machinist

Greene started as an operator and was skilled at specific tasks, but she didn’t have a sense of the bigger picture. Taking classes from industry professionals during the apprenticeship filled in the gaps.

“It helped me make sense of the things I was learning in the shop. I went from being just an operator to understanding the machine movements, terminology and code.”

Even though women are underrepresented, Greene says she’s felt welcome and supported everywhere she’s worked.

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Trudie Dole, woman apprenticing at AJAC

Trudie Dole | Manufacturing Academy

“There are programs and scholarships to help people like me retrain and find better opportunities. I didn’t have a perfect past, but I’ve dealt with that issue and AJAC still welcomed me,” she says, encouraging others to consider advanced manufacturing. “There’s more out there than just retail and the food and beverage industry.”

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Mallory Martindale, woman apprentice

Mallory Martindale | Machinist

“The apprenticeship was an incredible opportunity to get both hands-on experience and college-level instruction. I would love to have a management position in manufacturing engineering eventually, and the apprenticeship is a stepping stone to career advancement. You get to rotate around the company, go through all departments to get a well-rounded foundation and find where you excel,” Martindale says. “My company has seen my growth and recognized that the AJAC courses have given me the skills to be a journeyman.”

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Davelyn Patrick, woman machinist apprentice

Davelyn Patrick | Machinist

Davie has become a role model to the thousands of aspiring female machinists in Washington State through her persistence and go-getter attitude. “I say if you’re interested or think you might enjoy it, GO FOR IT! Don’t let anyone tell you ‘you can’t.’ Machine shops are often hiring (employees) with little to no experience. All you have to do is get your foot in the door and keep moving forward.”

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Beverly Sandoval, woman precision metal fabricator apprentice

Beverly Sandoval | Precision Metal Fabricator

Sandoval started her manufacturing career with no prior experience. Her determination to start from the bottom laid the foundation for her relentless motivation to work in an industry where women are vastly underrepresented. “I think the hardest part for me is having to work extra hard to prove myself in a man’s world,” Sandoval said. “I would tell other girls to never give up no matter the obstacles. Just do your best.”

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Miley Molstad, woman machinist apprentice

Miley Molstad | Machinist

Molstad explains there are many challenges and obstacles she has had to face while working at the shop. For example, Molstad is the only woman working on a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine and oftentimes has to challenge herself to understand how the men and other workers on the floor are thinking in order to make the job easier, or create a better part.

However, her advice for women interested in starting a career in machining is to stick with it because it is a rewarding and fulfilling job. “If you like to get dirty, then it is a good job for you,” says Molstad.

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Leading Ladies logo

Leading Ladies Of...

AJAC partners with a local organization called Leading Ladies Of… which actively promotes gender parity for women in the workplace including the aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries. Leading Ladies hosts workshops, leadership labs, and summits throughout the year to create cross-company communities of support.