6 Tips to Encourage Women in Manufacturing
Entrepreneur Nancy Westcott, president of GoatThroat Pumps, offers guidance and advice for encouraging girls and women to pursue manufacturing careers.
Nancy Westcott, president of GoatThroat Pumps.
October is manufacturing month in the U.S., and a crucial part of manufacturing month is educating young people about the career paths open to them in the industry. Because men are still more likely to pursue manufacturing careers, it is especially timely to encourage girls and women to pursue their interests in STEM fields.
It’s easy to get behind the idea of closing the talent gap by encouraging more people to pursue manufacturing and STEM-related careers, but it’s not always clear how exactly to do that. Entrepreneur Nancy Westcott, president of GoatThroat Pumps, understands firsthand how important women in manufacturing are. We got her take on some great ways to engage with and inspire girls and women for the future of the industry.
Don’t limit opportunities for young girls. This seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes our expectations of what kind of activities girls are interested in can get in the way. Westcott herself had ample opportunity to explore as a child. “It never occurred to me that I couldn’t do anything I wanted. My father started training me with tools in his shop when I was six years old. I think building things is in my blood,” she says.
Give examples of women in all kinds of positions, including in leadership roles. “I think advertising and marketing images, photographs, videos and stories of women in manufacturing workplaces encourage women to STEM programs and manufacturing,” Westcott says. Plus, of course, she herself is an example of how following your passions can lead to success, regardless of gender.
Hire female interns. “If companies would take more women on as interns, it would be much easier for women to find their way into manufacturing jobs. Around here, in Connecticut, Sikorsky Helicopters does a great job of hiring engineering interns, and a lot of them are women. And then they get full-time jobs after college. And the women get to be bosses and look for other women to work at their company. Everyone wins,” says Westcott.
Offer robust training. “Everyone who comes to work at GoatThroat Pumps gets mentored and cross-trained because I want them to learn as much as they can so that I can give more of the responsibilities to properly trained individuals. That is the only way your company can grow,” Westcott explains.
Mentor young women. Westcott mentors several young female entrepreneurs, to help others follow in her footsteps. One of GoatThroat’s employees, Lissa Rustic Pagano, notes, “Even though I had never worked in manufacturing before 2014, Nancy took the time to teach me. She mentored me in everything that she knew until I knew it back and forth. She has taught me how to speak up for myself and that all opinions matter in production and manufacturing.”
Foster a collaborative culture. “Nancy allows for a collaborative workplace that I have never experienced in my other employment. In turn, I feel that this approach... has enabled myself and other employees to want to give our best back to her,” Pagano further explains.
Westcott also offers advice for women entering the field. “If you want to work in manufacturing as a woman, be curious, ignore naysayers, don’t be afraid of it and don’t be afraid to ask questions.” Wise words from an accomplished woman.