Panel: Women in manufacturing look at issues ‘on another level’


Being a woman in a career in manufacturing may not be the norm or even easy, but the panelists involved in the Women in Manufacturing-National Panel segment of the Fort Chamber of Commerce Manufacturing Week activities Smith, Tuesday, Sept. 28, agreed that more females were needed on the court.

Women bring something to the table that their male counterparts don’t, said Dr Kristin Tardif, associate professor of leadership at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith and a former Nestlé Foods executive. Women are diversifying thinking in the room, Tardif said.

“We have a different outlook with employees, more empathy. We see it on another level, ”she said.

Cynthia Herold, director of technical services at Primo Water North America, said she believes manufacturing companies have a lot more detail in their thinking when women are on the problem-solving team.

“Women tend to think a little more. In problem solving and brainstorming, they bring a level of detail, ”Herold said.

Dr Susan Yturrapse, SAP program manager for NA regional project operations and income forecasting, said that because they are trying to prove that something can be done, women often don’t give up when it is about solving a problem.

“Women tend to have the courage to fail. They have the courage to ask the question, to try something different, to take a risk. They agree they are wrong, ”said Connie Worbington, regional manufacturing project manager at Mars Pet Nutrition North America.

Because they bring a different perspective to the field, more women should be encouraged to enter manufacturing, and women leaders in the field should step up their efforts to help these women excel.

“As a female leader in our field, I feel personally obligated and 100% responsible to sponsor, mentor, mentor and attract other women. I think those of us who are leaders in the field… we are pioneers and we need to bring in more (women) and mentor and coach. Because if we don’t, who will? Said Worbington.

But being a woman in a male dominated field comes with a set of challenges that these female leaders all recognize.

“Sometimes you don’t feel like you are being heard. You might have something to say, but no one is listening. You are not heard by others, so a guy will say the same thing you said, and he will have been heard. It is a problem that continues to occur. I think it’s hard to come up with strategies around that other than calling it sometimes, ”Yturrapse said.

There are also a number of stereotypes, such as the women in the group are not the only ones who can order lunch, Worbington said. She added that with little stereotypes and nuances that continue to prevail on the pitch. It’s up to women to work to change them.

“It’s up to us to say, hey, George can order lunch too,” she said.

Herold said women absolutely need to express themselves as much as possible and do so with a lot of confidence.

“Sometimes you have to speak above people to be heard and that’s a real shame,” she said.

Women must also go above and beyond and be prepared to do whatever it takes to get the job done and prove they are capable, Tardif said. Other women are another challenge for women on the ground, panelists said.

“During twenty years of manufacturing in a factory, I have encountered some of my greatest challenges with other women in my manufacturing world. I don’t know if it was competitive because we were such a minority that some people it’s almost like it’s a me or you type situation, ”Worbington said. “Now, a whole female population supports each other. “

Alex Benson, Quality Control and Process Supervisor at Hormel Foods in Fort Smith, attended the Zoom conference. She said that as a woman she looked at others and found behaviors and traits that she didn’t want to emulate as a leader.

“I also feel responsible for being friendly and neutral and for establishing a good working relationship to end the stigma that women have to compete with each other,” Benson said.


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