Women in Manufacutring
Women in Manufacutring
An interview with Crystal Engineering's Ashley Benson
We sat down with Ashley Benson, Production Planner at Crystal Engineering, to better understand the role and perspective of women in the manufacturing Industry.
Ashley, thank you for taking the time to help us understand your experience as a woman in the manufacturing industry. Tell us about your career path.
I was studying Criminal Justice, actually, but found a job as an office assistant at a manufacturing plant. I enjoyed the work and started to learn different aspects of production planning. Eventually that led to applying for the job at Crystal Engineering. I have been with Crystal for two years, and started in manufacturing about six years ago.
What influenced your decision to stay in manufacturing?
I found that I really enjoyed learning about how things get made, where products go, and what they end up becoming. I just really enjoy the creation of the products. The creative piece, it’s like painting. At the same time, there’s the organizational part – getting involved with the planning and production of steel is something I also really enjoy.
Women are clearly underrepresented in the manufacturing space. What are your thoughts on how to change this?
Manufacturing has a bit of an old stereotype to it. Like, “that’s something guys do.” So getting that stereotype out of the way would be huge. I think the bigger thing, however, is that it’s become sort of an “overlooked” job for both men and women. It surprises me that here is this industry – that is the backbone of our society with fantastic career opportunities – but it doesn’t seem like it is out there in front of young job seekers as much as other industries.
What are the advantages of being a woman in manufacturing and bringing more women into manufacturing?
Well, I think men and women are naturally a little different. I think one advantage women have is simply a different approach to situations. Woman handle things like stress, customers, and workplace issues with a different style of emotional intelligence. I think that can be an advantage.
What do you think the industry could do to help attract more women?
Just like men, women are motivated by opportunity. I think if you apply the perspective of achieving growth and a solid future with the company, that would help. Women want to know they can grow and possibly make a name for themselves. If that opportunity is highlighted I think we would see results.
Do you have advice for women looking to become part of the manufacturing workforce?
I would encourage them not to be intimidated at all. Men are very responsive to women being in the workplace. It’s not like years ago, times have changed. I would also recommend they push and ask for what they want, and gain more of an understanding of what is needed. I would also look for a good company. I work for a great company that is very encouraging of women in the workplace.
Would you ever consider being a mentor?
I see myself in the manufacturing industry 10 years from now and would certainly take on the opportunity to mentor someone.
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