MFG Women

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Believing in the power of MFG WOMEN

  • 1.  Believing in the power of MFG WOMEN

    Posted 06-26-2018 10:49

    A challenge I've noticed in many organizations right now for attracting, training, and retaining women is believing in their abilities. People can tell when you don't believe in them, and I feel that every woman, at some time, has either felt, or has been told, that they don't believe she can do the job. At some point, the women question why they should even prove others wrong when they have other opportunities. I've seen it happen where capable women are asked to "share" their job responsibilities with someone else, or sometime a male colleague, and although they do the work, they are never perceived as the leader.

    I believe there are a lot of initiatives to attract and train women, but they will never be retained unless managers believe in them, challenge them with greater responsibility, and recognize their hard work was not only luck. To solve this, the "frozen middle" must be tackled. I encourage everyone to check out this article and welcome thoughts on this important topic:

    Paige Kassalen
    Solar Impulse Ground Engineer
    Covestro, LLC


  • 2.  RE: Believing in the power of MFG WOMEN

    Posted 06-27-2018 12:24
    ​I totally agree with the leaders needing to be the ones that help with this disconnect. I even see men who would be great Frontline Supervisors say, "I would rather just weld (or do whatever trade) than become a foreman or leader". They don't see leadership as a way to inspire and serve others, they see it more as a burden and trap. As a leader, every time I hear this from man or women, I immediately try to understand where that feeling stems from and then remind them that when (we) you, me, and other great leaders choose to not step up or push through the hard times we are leaving the door open for mediocre to come in, and that chokes out change. When we see the need for change but we will not hold out or step up, we allow more opportunity for those who "follow the pack" to continue the same old leadership/work environment styles.

    I have five children, 3 in school, and I have to teach each one of them how to hold to their standard and how to work with those around them who are not always nice because I can't let them quit school. They have to get this education. I have a vision to follow and give at work. They can do the same at school by leading the way.

    I ignore attitudes, actions, atmospheres that may seem condescending toward me based on my gender. This is partly because I grew up between my brothers (my sisters much older) and I was not treated any different than they were. I see myself as equal and that's all that matters. Focusing on making others see me as equal, that do not see me that way, is like telling someone who is colorblind that they are wrong. You can't see through their eyes and see how real the color they see is. Trying to make them believe that it is a different color is insane because they can't. What I choose to believe is that my intentions are trustworthy, noble, and praiseworthy. If they don't see that, it really doesn't change what I am doing.

    I am being bias in the fact that I am using my personal example but I have been this way since I started working at this company. The amount of female welders is low. The amount of female welding leaders is even lower. But I didn't focus on that. I ended up under a leadership that said I am so glad to have you (as a pipe welder), I have heard so much, I knew you before I met you. I became one of the only two female pipe foreman in our company, under this management. Then I was offered another opportunity and I became the first female to hold this position. Now I have leaders still speaking about where I am going to go and what I am going to do, but sometimes those directly around me are not so positive. I take the positive compliments and write them down and read them. I stay focused on doing things that are honest, trustworthy, excellent, and noble. I don't always get the praise that maybe I would have expected but I have learned that it does not go unnoticed.

    As a leader I do see how the leaders above me really affect our level of leadership and the up and coming leaders. I totally agree there needs to be a culture change. I look at it like my parents. They raised me with the knowledge and information they had based on how they were raised and what they learned throughout their lifetime. I, as a parent, am even following some of their practices and some others I have tailored the way I want to raise my kids. I refuse to treat them poorly for not raising me the way I am learning to raise my children because their set of examples and life experiences is different than mine. I see my management the same. I try to see the good in what they are doing and then help them see the good in the changing of the culture. After studying adult learners it is even more apparent how and why the more mature we become the more we are stuck in certain ways. That stems from our experiences. That is who we are. Its obvious based on my whole response being a lot of my experiences. We have to be creative to include their experiences and then show how changing things a little can really set a different tone.

    The examples we have are the only thing we know. We have to learn something knew or see knew examples to change the way we do something.

    Kelli Gilliam
    Apprentice Craft Instructor/Welding Foreman
    Huntington Ingalls Industries