The need to have a diverse workforce in manufacturing continues. Companies are focusing on ways to add new, multi-faceted talent to the industry. A specific focus within manufacturing is to attract and retain women in the workforce. In the United States, women made up about 47 percent of the American workforce but only 30 percent of it was in manufacturing.1 The good news is that on average, women in manufacturing earn 16 percent more than the national median annual income for women who are employed.2
In April 2023, we hosted a panel discussion at our booth at Hannover Messe 2023 titled “Women in Manufacturing.” Watch the video from the event.
Hannover Messe 2023
Join us for the Women in Manufacturing session on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, from 3:00 to 4:00 PM PST at our booth in Hall 17.
I was the host for this special session and our panelists included:
- Audrey Colle, Product Engineering Manager, Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing and Mobility at Microsoft.
- Judy Cubiss, Director—Global Industry Marketing Lead for Industrial Manufacturing at SAP.
- Karolina Rzepiejewska-Malyska, Vice President of Operations at Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence.
- Dr.-Ing. Silvia Rummel, Director of Manufacturing at Avanade (and formerly Festo).
- Mandy Lin, Senior Director of Manufacturing Industry at Microsoft.
These women are leaders and subject matter experts in the manufacturing industry. During this session, we came together to discuss the future of women in manufacturing and how to promote and support them. For more information about our panelists, please see the “Our Panel” section below.
What we talked about
Our panel discussed ways to be an ally to women in manufacturing. The first step is having the knowledge that attracting and retaining women in the manufacturing industry is essential. Building employee resource groups has been one successful method. Other ways to be an ally continue to develop.
Mentorship is an important element in both attracting and retaining women in manufacturing. Mentors are leading by example and are sharing their experiences and lessons they have learned along the way. These women are living examples of what is possible for women coming into the industry, but also for girls beginning to explore future career opportunities. Mentorship programs have been shown to drive retention, but only a relatively small percentage of companies currently provide that offering. The official Women MAKE America (WMA) Mentorship Program trains mentors and mentees before matching them based on more than two dozen criteria to maximize their relationship. The WMA Program will train 1,000 mentors by the year 2030.2
While allyship and mentorship both support women in manufacturing, there is a difference. Being an ally means intentionally taking action to help women in manufacturing progress in the industry. One example of allyship in action is to assess existing processes for areas that inherently have barriers built into them, and then work to improve the process to eliminate them. At the core of mentorship is creating relationships, and sharing knowledge and resources with the goal to help the mentee advance in her career.
Professional development opportunities will continue to promote manufacturing as an industry of choice for women. In March 2022, Women MAKE America launched the 35 x 30 campaign to increase the percentage of women in the manufacturing workforce to 35 percent by 2030. This industry-wide, action-oriented campaign features a best-in-class female-to-female mentoring program, increased company engagement, and expanded access to professional development and training. The campaign aims to add half a million women to the manufacturing industry by 2030. United States manufacturers can close the “skills gap” by 50 percent simply by bringing 10 percent more women into the industry.2
Our discussion also examined how technology can be used to improve access, methods, and processes. For example, automating a function and enabling the ability to monitor that function remotely gives that employee the freedom to perform that task without being required to be at a desk. This improves efficiency and benefits all employees.
Audrey Colle—Audrey is a General Manager in the Microsoft Cloud for Industry product group. She leads a worldwide team focusing on innovation in the Manufacturing and Mobility industries. For more than 20 years at Microsoft, she has learned, developed, and applied new technologies in the areas of speech recognition, search and advertising relevance, and core cloud services as well as specialized for industries.
Judy Cubiss—Judy is the Global Industry Marketing Lead for Industrial Manufacturing at SAP. She is currently responsible for industry marketing to industrial manufacturers globally. Prior to this role, she worked in marketing, product management, and consulting for technology companies. Her career began as an Instrument Engineer at a chemical plant.
Mandy Lin—Early in her career, Mandy was a consultant focused on procurement and sourcing which led to a supply chain focus at MIT Sloan, a product operations internship at Apple, and a Cisco software supply chain role. Before she joined Microsoft as Senior Director of Product Marketing for Retail, Consumer Goods & Manufacturing Industries, she was the Global Vice President of Marketing, Industry, and Customer Advisory at SAP.
Dr.-Ing. Silvia Rummel—Silvia is the Director for Digital Advisory at the IT consultancy at Avanade where she focuses on digitalization projects in the areas of shop floor, process monitoring, and quality improvement as well as supply chain resilience for manufacturing companies. Besides this, she teaches as a lecturer at the FOM University of Applied Sciences. She has 12 years of industrial experience in mechanical engineering, especially in the areas of research and development, strategy, and production.
Karolina Rzepiejewska-Malyska—Karolina is the Vice President of Operations at Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence. She has an MSc in Engineering in Mechatronics, a Ph.D. in Nanoscale Metrology, and an MBA in Business Strategy. She has more than 15 years of experience in various positions in product management focused on the development and industrialization of the instrumentation and testing methods within the manufacturing processes in various high-tech industries with a strong focus on digitalization and disruptive and innovative elements of business development.
Here are some resources where you can learn more:
- “Women in Manufacturing“—For some inspiration from women making a difference in manufacturing, check out these blogs and interviews.
- United States Census Bureau More Women in Manufacturing Jobs in Every Age Group.
- Follow us on social and visit our website to stay informed about Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing and learn how you can help manufacture a more resilient and sustainable future.