According to the textbook definition, Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a yearly tribute to the “contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” It is a holiday near and dear to the hearts of all manufacturers, who have worked so hard to strengthen the American way of life.
This year, The Rodon Group wants to pay a special tribute to the women in manufacturing. And we are not alone. Since 2012, The Manufacturing Institute has done just that, recognizing the contributions of women in manufacturing with their annual STEP Awards.
According to the Institute’s website “Each year, The Manufacturing Institute announces the honorees that will receive the Women in Manufacturing STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Award. The STEP Awards honor women who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers and represent all levels of the manufacturing industry, from the factory-floor to the C-suite. The Institute honored 160 women from over 110 companies in 2014 and 122 women in 2013.”
This recognition has been hard fought...literally. As men went off to fight in World War I, factory workers were needed to make the munitions and other supplies for the front lines. According to the website, Firstworldwar.com “approximately 1,600,000 women joined the workforce between 1914 and 1918 in Government departments, public transport, the post office, as clerks in business, as land workers and in factories, especially in the dangerous munitions factories, which were employing 950,000 women by Armistice Day.”
Unfortunately, any economic gains women made during this time quickly vanished after WWI only to return during WWII. During this war, women worked not just in munitions factories, but building airplanes and machinery. Enter the iconic figure “Rosie the Riveter” whose persona was used as a recruiting tool to attract more women into manufacturing. Today, you can find some great information on these pioneering women on the website RosieTheRiveter.Net.
As the saying goes, history repeats itself. After WWII, women once again returned to the secretarial pool, but their contributions lit a fire that remained burning. Women pursued advanced degrees in greater numbers. They started businesses. And, they began rising through the ranks of corporate America.
Even with all of this momentum, women in STEM careers still have a long way to go. Today, the number of women in manufacturing is a mere fraction of the workforce. This infographic shows the opportunity as well as the widening gap in female representation in STEM-related employment.
Courtesy of: Techschool.com
So, where do we go from here?
How do we encourage our young girls to embrace science and math? We must become fearless advocates for their educations. Parents play an important role. To be successful in life, their daughters need to become confident with these subjects. With confidence, our young girls and women will take on new and exciting challenges.
Let’s not forget that women have contributed a great deal to our economic growth and stability. We think this video from The Manufacturing Institute does a great job illustrating this point. Take a look and be sure to invite your daughters to watch along.