Choosing a Career in Manufacturing. As we celebrate International Women’s Day it is time to give more deserved attention to the specific topic of women in the industrial sector and the way they have been climbing the ladder of a mostly male-dominated field.
Historically speaking, the position of women in the manufacturing industry had its hard moments. During the sixteenth century, women were expelled from guilds and workshops. The Protoindustrialisation in the seventeenth century strengthened the tendency to displace women into the most marginal productive sectors.
Shifting towards the Modern Age, women’s employment conditions, unfortunately, got even worse, as the textile industry in Europe at the time had been concentrating the female workforce in the secondary sector, fueling its expansion through the low wages that were paid to women. 
Today the situation is different, and the scope of jobs in the manufacturing industry is very broad, while many multinational corporations spread across the globe and offer jobs to both men and women. These companies create and offer some of the best jobs with the most popular employee benefits, but fight problems such as an aging workforce. Nevertheless, field service has stayed a more popular option for male candidates but this gender gap might narrow.
We have asked women in service what made them decide to work in the manufacturing industry, and what motivates them. Many of the female industry professionals perceived the field service jobs as good with a lot of opportunities to learn. Still, some of the women in service didn’t plan to work in the industry specifically, but they eventually applied for the job, got an offer and grew fond of it.
One of the women in service that had a similar path was Elisa Nistri, Chief Market Development Officer at Coesia:
- (My company) was the first one to invite me to join them when finishing university. It wasn’t planned but I then fell in love with the company and the sector itself.
In other cases, choosing a job in service was a choice made with love. Speaking to an engineer, Cristina Peña Andrés, who is the Group Parts Manager at Alimak Service, we got a chance to hear about the beautiful family memories that had made her career path, as she was raised in households were engineering has played an important part in the life of a family:
- My father and some of the brothers were engineers. I had a close reference to their works and I loved it, so it was easy for me to imitate their paths in order to achieve precisely what they have succeeded… My father, open-minded, encouraged me to go for it, as well as my brothers… Now my husband is the one that encourages me in all my latest job positions and he is for sure my main support. I am a mother of three, so imagine… I thank you, my husband, for believing in me and pushing me to do my best. He is also an Engineer.
The sector itself provides a variety of exciting career paths, with some of them leading to the top. This is what is of interest to the women who have a clear image of the high accomplishments they are capable of. Executives like Duygu Seker, Global Vice President of Business Unite Spare Parts for Manitou Group, are confident in their competences and interested in leadership roles:
- I didn’t select the manufacturing industry specifically. I am a Leader, and I should be able to contribute to each industry I go to. Today, it is the manufacturing industry, tomorrow maybe Fast Moving Consumer Goods industry. I built my career multidimensional.
Having said that, we also asked if the manufacturing industry is more or less demanding than others when it comes to having a balanced career. “I would say it is more demanding from my point of view, but it completely depends on a particular manufacturing organization”, Olga Litvinchuk, CRC Division Director at Zeppelin Ukraine says. “I have 4 different locations and continue to develop several more which is time-consuming and difficult even physically due to immense travels. While having one location and well-organized business processes, one can probably easily follow the work-life balance concept.”
Even so, in the reality of a female manager, there is an additional stress factor at work, the female director continues explaining:
- The difficulties here probably get worse. A woman has to be one step ahead to prove that she is capable, especially in the industrial and machining areas.
A transformation of manufacturing in the Industry 4.0 demands a new generation of agile, innovative and educated workforce that can embrace challenges of the industrial revolution, and see its way through it. The educated and competent women create an undiscovered talent pool that has the potential to fuel the manufacturing industry of tomorrow.
To find out more about women in service and how they can start and develop a successful career in the field service read the next article in the series The Voice of Women in Service.