Celebrating Women’s History Month Through Manufacturing
Editor’s note: Gardner Business Media and its brands are lucky to have some amazingly talented and smart women in the company. March is Women’s History Month and as the month wraps up, some editors wanted to share a little about being a woman in manufacturing since working with Women in Manufacturing and reading Steel Toes and Stilettos: A True Story of Women Manufacturing Leaders and Lean Transformation Success by Shannon Karels and Kathy Miller.
Sarah Barnett, Assistant Digital Editor, Plastics Technology and Products Finishing
Women in Finishing
Sarah Barnett: I joined Plastics Technology and Products Finishing in April 2021. I had never been introduced to or had any knowledge of the industries I would be working with. I quickly realized I had some amazing people on these teams who wanted me to succeed. Shortly after I gained my footing and in-person conferences began to reappear, I had the opportunity to attend CCAI’s Women in Finishing Forum. I am very appreciative of being able to go last year and register again for this year. At this forum, I was able to hear stories from other women in my field and make connections that I didn’t know I needed. Every conversation that stemmed from those three days was so encouraging and motivating, I know I now have an even stronger network helping me to succeed.
Jenny Rush, Senior Managing Editor, Modern Machine Shop
Diversity in Leadership
Jenny Rush: Even though I don’t work on a shop floor, I get to peek into manufacturing facilities around the country through the eyes of our writing staff. Because I work on Modern Machine Shop, I also get to be a part of industry conversations about machining and manufacturing. There are a lot of male voices in this space, but I’ve been floored by the qualifications, resolve and innovation I see in leaders who happen to be women.
It would be easy to default to the “traditional” depiction of manufacturing, where shop floors were full of people who were mostly the same gender and skin color – and in some places, that is surely still the case. But the stories that resonate with me, and that seem to have the deepest impact, often come from the outliers: folks who look different from what you expect who bring different ideas. I can’t help but be inspired by the women who think outside the box to solve workforce development issues, or whose leadership brings more success to a shop than its employees ever thought possible. I’m also here for the women engineers, machinists, programmers, HR reps and apprentices – any role that can be filled in a shop. Ladies may still be the minority when it comes to manufacturing employees, but progress is coming slowly and their contributions are shining.
Cara Decknadel, Assistant Digital Editor, MoldMaking Technology
New in Town
Cara Decknadel: I have not been working in the manufacturing industry very long. This is my third week at Gardner Business Media, Inc. and I was previously at a digital marketing agency. I had never considered a career in the realm of manufacturing until I interviewed with Gardner and met people who were like me, people who may not have had a manufacturing background but found their place at the company.
What stood out to me about Gardner was that most of my interviewers were women. Previously, when I thought about manufacturing, I envisioned a room full of men. I took this as a positive sign that there would be a place for me in the industry. Since starting at Gardner, I have met even more women in the industry who lead discussions in manufacturing and are passionate about their work. As a matter of fact, I am surrounded by women! I have never felt more confident and comfortable in a workplace as a woman. It is a great reminder that there are many places for women in manufacturing and I hope future generations of women are inspired to join the field. Whether that be as engineers, writers, technicians, leaders, conversation starters, etc., I hope every woman has the support to go into the field like I did.
Addie Roth, Assistant Digital Editor, CompositesWorld and Production Machining
Strong Women Raise Strong Women
Addie Roth: I love the popular quote, “Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.” Since beginning my career at Gardner Business Media, I have had the sincere pleasure to know and work alongside many strong women. I’m inspired every day by their intelligence, determination, and confidence, but also their compassion, grace, and empathy. These women are changing the manufacturing industry forever, and I’m grateful I get to learn and grow from them. Kate Hand, Jenny Rush, Ginger Gardiner, Lori Beckman, and many others – thank you for helping shape me into the strong woman I am today!
Grace Nehls, Managing Editor, MoldMaking Technology and CompositesWorld
Finding Your Place
Grace Nehls: Prior to my current position as a managing editor, I had never anticipated working in the manufacturing space. I’ve always been a “creative arts” type of gal—dancer, creative writer, some doodling on the side—and always expected I would be. Sure, technical writing and editing were a very real possibility during the job search process, but it wasn’t what I was originally going for. For me, book editing (and writing) was where I wanted to be. Magazines—including trade magazines—were left to the wayside.
Joining my current company—and those I work beside—has been an extremely eye-opening experience. The learning curve has been rigorous but rewarding, and so intriguing. I’ve worked with and met so many driven, intelligent individuals, all of them so passionate about their work in this wide-ranging field. And I came into the world of manufacturing as a woman… and found that I was far from alone. In fact, between the two magazine brands I work on, more than half of our staff are women, and this isn’t counting all the others I work beside every day. All of them are extremely competent, capable, and respected.
Two years ago, I dove headfirst into a world I had only vague knowledge about. Today, I feel like I am truly finding my place in manufacturing and look forward to what the future holds.
Hannah Mason, Associate Editor, CompositesWorld
Innovation and Education
Hannah Mason: As a woman who writes about the manufacturing industry, I love hearing from women business leaders, engineers, technicians, researchers, and students who are innovating in their industry while breaking down the stereotypes about which fields are male-dominated. Specifically, within the composites manufacturing space, it’s encouraging (and just cool) to hear about organizations starting up like Women in Composites, aiming to support and promote the growing number of women leading the way.
Even when I’m not out in the field, I’m thankful for the chance to learn from and work with a lot of crazy smart, talented women leading the B2B publishing world through CompositesWorld and Gardner Business Media. Not sure where I’d be without CW senior editor Ginger Gardiner, who co-wrote the textbook on composites manufacturing – which still sits open on my desk many days while I try to absorb her industry knowledge! Lucky to work with a growing CW team of amazing women: Grace Nehls, Addie Roth, Sue Kraus, Jann Bond, Becky Taggert, Barb Businger, Simone Mas, contributors Peggy Malnati and Karen Mason, and many others!
Julia Hider, Senior Editor, Additive Manufacturing
Advocating for a Seat at the Table
Julia Hider: When I first started as an assistant editor on Modern Machine Shop, I wasn’t really intimidated by being a woman in manufacturing. I was too intimidated by the fact that I was a person in manufacturing with no knowledge or background in metalworking whatsoever to really consider gender. I’ve learned so much since then, thanks in no small part to the women who were working on the brand when I arrived — Kate Hand, Stephanie Hendrixson and Emily Probst. But even now, it’s hard for me to view myself as a woman in manufacturing. I tend to think of myself as more of a woman adjacent to manufacturing. I’m not out on the shop floor or in the front office of a manufacturing business every day, so my experience is very different from the women who are. However, because we occupy this area between manufacturing and media, my colleagues and I are in a great position to advocate for women in manufacturing and promote their contributions to the industry across all our media channels and events. Men still outnumber women on my shop visits (and I often find myself the only woman in the room), so I always appreciate the opportunity to engage with organizations like Women in Manufacturing and Women in 3D Printing – I can see that the industry is changing. And the number of women at Gardner has continued to grow across all brands, so I know that there are women advocating for one another in every area of manufacturing!