All Posts By

Natalie Schilling

Investing in #MFGWomen

By | General, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

We already know that the rapidly evolving manufacturing industry is in critical need of a pipeline of skilled workers, so what better way for manufacturers to invest in their company, community, industry and economy as a whole than to support an expanded and diverse talent pipeline, which includes attracting girls and women?

We know women in manufacturing make a measurable difference. Recent McKinsey research shows us that having a diverse workforce really does enhance their competitive advantage. Of the 366 public companies analyzed, those in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above national industry medians. Furthermore, they attract a higher quality talent pool and better serve customers because of the heightened innovation that diverse teams deliver.

So how do we build a pipeline of female leaders? Below are five ways companies can help advance women in manufacturing.

  1. Mentor an early career professional. Pay it forward by mentoring a peer or colleague. You’ve been there, done that—share the challenges you’ve overcome, the experiences you’ve had and the advice you would give to your younger self to help others advance in their careers.
  2. Create an affinity group. Female role models need to be seen and heard in all levels of the workplace, and affinity groups are the perfect platform for their voices. When early career women have the opportunity to engage meaningfully with their more senior colleagues, it allows all women to learn and grow across generations.
  3. Engage with the National Girls Collaborative Project. The National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) is a nonprofit initiative to help connect individuals to programs that support girls in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The NGCP operates on a local basis and will provide a directory of girl-serving STEM programs in your area.
  4. Partner with the Boys & Girls Club. The Boys & Girls Club of America is an effective grassroots way to reach girls and boys and introduce them early to the possibility of a career in modern manufacturing.
  5. Visit your local schools. Teachers everywhere welcome the opportunity to have employers speak to their classes. Classroom visits are fantastic opportunities for manufacturers to bring the industry to the student and vividly bring manufacturing careers alive.

If we want to see a solid pipeline of future female talent in manufacturing, we need to tap into today’s female manufacturing leaders. They have the power to inspire a young girl to excel in STEM. They are the ones who lend a credible example of hard work and success. And it is those women who can spark the imagination of girls as they begin to think about the potential careers that manufacturing offers.

Women in Manufacturing’s Impact: Yesterday, Today and the Future

By | General, Manufacturing Institute | No Comments

As I think about iconic manufacturing women in history, I think about how much we have accomplished and how much potential we have to grow. Some of the greatest inventors, creators and leaders in this world are women. In 1871, Margaret Knight was awarded her first patent for a machine that cut, folded and glued flat-bottomed paper shopping bags. In 1903, Mary Anderson invented and patented the windshield wiper. In 1908, Melitta Bentz received a patent for the coffee filter system. And in 1942, Hedy Lamarr invented a remote-controlled communications system for the U.S. military during World War II. Her frequency hopping theory now serves as a basis for modern communication technology, like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. These women were preceded and followed by many more.

These women before me have forged a path for my career and success in this industry. I have always been fascinated by how things work, so I intentionally sought a career at a manufacturing company whose products transform the world. It’s helped me to understand the impact of industry beyond our national doorstep. One of the best things about my job is touring our facilities and watching raw materials become products; I am still awed by the deep science and engineering collaboration that allow Arconic’s innovations to emerge. That is the feeling I want every girl sitting in a science or math class to know—that each of them can help invent the next frontier of technology.

As chair of the 2018 STEP Ahead Awards, I recognize the significant impact present-day women have made on this industry. Over the past five years, STEP Ahead Award winners have impacted more than 300,000 individuals, from peers in the industry to school-aged children. With that alone, we know these STEP Ahead women have played a part in attracting, retaining and advancing high-quality female talent in manufacturing, laying the groundwork for future visionaries, trendsetters and go-getters.

While there is an underrepresentation of women in the industry, I firmly believe that women will continue to rise to the occasion and create greatness—just as we have for centuries. Where would we be without the Hedy Lamarr’s or the Margaret Knight’s of the world? Where would we be without these thought leaders and innovators that have changed our lives as we know it? I am proud to be a part of an industry where women have played a significant part in shaping our current livelihood and will shape the future.