Women discuss role in manufacturing

Milwaukee played host to the second annual Women in Manufacturing conference last week, attracting women from all over the country who work in the manufacturing industry to the Pfister Hotel.

The two-day conference, hosted by the Independence, Ohio-based Precision Metalforming Association, offered networking opportunities and a variety of seminars. Participants also had the opportunity to tour manufacturing facilities at Kohler Co. or MillerCoors.

Topics included improving the image of the industry and beginning gender and diversity initiatives at manufacturing companies. Leadership and professional development were also discussed.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch addressed those gathered at a luncheon Tuesday, discussing the tradition of manufacturing in Wisconsin and the challenges women face when balancing career choices with raising a family.

“You’re trailblazers,” Kleefisch said. “It’s not often you see a woman who makes the choice to commit to a career in manufacturing.”

Only 23 percent of STEM graduates are women, she said. Those women who are leaders in manufacturing must encourage others to consider careers in manufacturing and promote the education that will get them there.

“There are some folks out there who still say careers in manufacturing are dirty, dumb and dangerous,” Kleefisch said. “These are not your father’s manufacturing careers. We need to teach kids that not only are things made in America, but they can make them.”

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