A Bright Future Ahead for Women in Manufacturing

Posted on May 8, 2015

  by Kalisha Millsap

On May 7, 2015 Some Sterling Employees attended a summit hosted at the Richard J. Daley College by the Alliance for Illinois Manufacturing. The summit focused on encouraging young girls and women to pursue careers in the manufacturing industry. “We’re experiencing a major deficit in qualified talent in manufacturing and engineering,” said Sterling President Rama Kavaliauskas. “Solving the manufacturing skills gap is critical if we want to sustain and grow manufacturing in the US. For young women, pursuing a career in manufacturing has not been an obvious choice in the past, but today’s speakers highlighted just how rewarding of a career it can be.”

The panelists shared stories of challenges they faced and obstacles they overcame on their career paths.  Their ability to conquer these hurdles is what made them stand out in their fields. Jen Tabor, President of Souldier, shared that being a female entrepreneur in the manufacturing/product industry, a field dominated by men, has often worked to her advantage. “Everyone’s blue and I’m red.”

Sterling Technical Recruiter Kalisha Millsap was particularly interested to hear Linda McGill Boasmond, speak. “I was impressed to personally meet the owner of Cedar Concepts Corp. She is the first and only African-American woman to own a chemical manufacturing plant. She is also in the process of writing a book High Heels & Lab Coats to give females that extra umph of empowerment to go out and be successful in the Manufacturing Industry. It should be a great read,” Kalisha said. While manufacturing is perceived as a male dominated field, Leila Uslander, Vice President of Silverland Bakery and Nicole Schroeder, Lean implementation Manager at Mars Chocolate pointed to the huge need for workers regardless of gender in this field.women in mfg summit

Today’s panelists opened the door to discussing manufacturing as a career opportunity for many young women. Besides hearing from the speakers, Kalisha noted that she finally had the opportunity to see an actual CNC machine, a manual milling machine, and PLCs. Kalisha shared information on the event with Sterling employees on Friday. “That was a personal goal in itself for me, now I need to see the machine being utilized in action. Attending this event has also given me the opportunity to network with Daley College. This will be very beneficial to Sterling and me, as they have a manufacturing program and teaching skills that our clients seek; so I’m looking forward to attending future job fairs there and assist students seeking employment.”

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