Inspirational ForcesNovember 28, 2023
Biography.com 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.