Brad Kuvin Brad Kuvin
Editorial Director

Inspirational Forces

November 28, 2023
Comments recounts the story of Madam C.J. Walker, who in the late 1800s invented a line of African American hair products, later established Madame C.J. Walker Laboratories to manufacture cosmetics and train sales beauticians, and who eventually became one of the first American female self-made millionaires.

We also recall the significant manufacturing roles women undertook during World War II, symbolized by the iconic figure of Rosie the Riveter. Rosie embodied the contributions women make in the manufacturing workforce; she surely was an early inspirational force attracting women to the diverse array of career options available in industry, a force that remains strong today. 

Women have been instrumental in shaping the landscape of U.S. manufacturing. Examples, documented by the Amazing Women in History website, include DuPont chemist Stephanie Kwolek, who in 1965 created Kevlar; and Margaret Hamilton, an MIT software engineer who in the early 1960s developed the software credited with enabling the moon landing by Apollo 11. They and others surely paved the way for women not only to work in manufacturing but to lead manufacturing companies. Examples abound, including Barbara Humpton, CEO of Siemens USA; Karen Norheim, president and CEO of American Crane; Elizabeth Barry, president of Delta Systems; and Mary Barra, chair and CEO of General Motors.

With this issue of MetalForming we seek to pay homage to those contributing to the success of several metal forming and fabricating companies, by presenting the winners of our eighth annual Women of Excellence in MetalForming and Fabricating program. They are owners, plant managers, finance directors, human resource managers, welders, tool and die makers, department leaders, press operators, material handlers, buyers, and shipping clerks. As you read through their stories, told here beginning on page 34, and with expanded biographies hosted on our website, may they inspire other women to also pursue career opportunities in manufacturing.  And, may they inspire the company leaders among you to continue to bring women into the fold. 

We asked the women being honored to wax poetic about their manufacturing careers.  Here’s a sample of their replies:

  • “Manufacturing is ‘making.’ This is an industry where women have an opportunity to make their own path and be fulfilled in every facet of their career and life.”
  • “I’ve enjoyed being in an environment that allows me to continuously improve and solve complex problems, driving innovation forward. In these multifaceted systems, where technology and human capital merge, the flexibility and unconventional thinking that women bring to manufacturing are vital for the industry’s future.”
  • “New technologies, materials and widening skill sets have changed the idea that manufacturing is only ‘men’s work.’”
  • “Every day, I see a woman’s perspective in problem solving being an asset to getting our job done. I believe there is more than enough room in manufacturing for a woman’s know-how.”
  • “I continue to pursue every opportunity for growth and would strongly advise other women to follow a similar path. I believe that women add great value in the industry by showcasing leadership, knowledge and diversity.”
  • “Manufacturing jobs involve addressing complex challenges and developing innovative solutions. Women’s unique perspectives and problem-solving approaches can make a significant difference in addressing industry issues.”
  • “The real joy of being in manufacturing is the people. The relationships you build with people are priceless.”
Industry-Related Terms: Die, Forming
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms

Technologies: Management


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