The battle cry for women is getting louder. Equality, equal pay, self-awareness, and confidence. The message I want to convey in this article is a sign of the times, but it may not be what you expect.
Here’s some context to shape your thoughts. Gloria Steinem started paving the way in the 1960’s with her article “After Black Power, Women’s Liberation”. Ms. Steinem was not seeking attention. She was trying to create a total mind shift on how women were viewed in the world.
With every cell in her body she believed that women could do everything a man could do and they should be treated the same. She was fearless then and now. She started a movement that we all can appreciate on some level.
I believe at the origin of the movement the purpose was genuine. Both sides believe it has become an “us against them” – when in fact – it should be viewed as a collaborative call to action for all genders and races.
So, ladies, let’s put on our pink hard hats and start making a bigger contribution in manufacturing and technology. Let’s change the perceptions and break through the barriers.
Common phrases we hear today are STEM and Women in STEM. STEM is defined as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. There are countless articles on the subject written with great messages for young women.
I want to go a little deeper than suggesting what classes to take in school. Sure, math and sciences are a good start, but I want women to feel the drive I feel when I put on my hard hat, safety vest, and steel-toed boots or my business attire and heels as I walk into factories all over the United States. I am intent on creating solutions and helping our manufacturing and technology industry succeed on a global level.
My passion and drive begins with my love for manufacturing and technology. I am happiest walking around a manufacturing plant no matter the environment. Whether it is loud and hot or a city-like microcosm, I am in my element. I feel like I am witnessing brand new technologies that will change our world.
My context is factory automation and robotics. My point of view is how enhancement in automation and robotics could help American manufacturers do more and compete on a global scale. There is a perception that automation reduces jobs. Not true in my opinion. Automation creates vast opportunities which creates more jobs.
My career has given me a vantage point that many women do not get the chance to see. We need more role models bringing awareness in this space, and it’s not about the “male vs female” comparison either.
Demands for talent in the factory automation sector are not getting filled. Critical jobs are left open or taken by those not qualified. It is important we all become role models and educate, engage, excite, and elevate girls and women to help them recognize this field as a viable and thriving option for a fulfilling career.
Now, let’s circle back to the Women in STEM question. Ladies, you are needed. There are careers waiting for you because there is more demand than supply. There are opportunities in the manufacturing and technology sector that are not only compelling and engaging, they are leading our world into the next wave of disruptive innovation.
So, hit the books. Take those science and math classes you need to become factory automation and robotics professionals. And this can mean many things. You can design new robots or automation processes. You can install and service the robots. You can program them, make them more efficient and safer. You can even look for new ways to apply the technology.
But mostly, male or female, become a master of curiosity, because the reality is that in this new world, there is no difference in gender or opportunity. You can wear whatever color hard hat you want. Just believe in your purpose.
The future of manufacturing and technology is there for the taking and it is our time.
About the Author: Gretchen Philyaw is President of Magenta Technologies LLC, an Atlanta-based industrial automation company and founder 0f USA Loves Manufacturing, an organization promoting and advocating USA manufacturing and technology.
Gretchen envisioned an organization that would support the manufacturing & technology arena and lift up the people that make it happen everyday.