Empowering Women in Manufacturing: A Story of Resilience and Progress

People | David Rea| March 15, 2024

As we honor Women’s History Month, it’s imperative to shine a spotlight on the remarkable women who are shaping the manufacturing landscape, defying odds, and breaking barriers. Emily, President of Somerset Welding & Steel, shares her candid journey, illuminating a path towards greater representation of women in the traditionally male-dominated industry.

Emily’s narrative is one of perseverance and determination. She candidly acknowledges that her ascent to leadership was not conventional, admitting, “My journey to leading a manufacturing company was purely nepotism.” Yet, she stands firm in her belief that she’s the right person for the role, leveraging her skills and expertise in executive management to drive Somerset Welding & Steel forward.

Born into a third-generation family business, Emily initially pursued a career outside of manufacturing, exploring avenues in consumer-packaged goods and healthcare. However, fate intervened when she became a shareholder and board member of the family enterprise. Tragedy struck with the unexpected deaths of her father and uncle, propelling Emily into a leadership position within the company. With the encouragement and support of her family and business partners she navigated the challenges of organizational restructure, eventually assuming the mantle of President.

In reflecting on the unique contributions of women in manufacturing, Emily emphasizes the importance of communication and relationship-building. While acknowledging the strong leadership characteristics of men in the industry, she underscores women’s aptitude for fostering strong interpersonal connections, particularly in a diverse, multi-generational workforce.

Looking towards the future, Emily envisions a manufacturing sector that champions gender diversity from the ground up. She advocates for more women to choose production, engineering, and supply chain roles, emphasizing the need to present manufacturing as a viable career option at the earliest ages. Through community partnerships and educational outreach, Emily strives to normalize women’s presence in traditionally male-dominated fields.

Moreover, Emily stresses the significance of creating comfortable work environments that prioritize safety, cleanliness, and facilities management. She notes that manufacturing can be physically and professionally demanding, but very satisfying for women who value seeing results from their work.

However, Emily acknowledges the systemic challenges that hinder women’s advancement in manufacturing, such as childcare and transportation barriers. She is mother to three school-age children and understands the demands of balancing a family and work. She acknowledges the industry’s need to adapt and evolve, offering flexibility to accommodate the needs of dual-career households while maintaining production schedules.

Despite these challenges, Emily remains optimistic about the future of manufacturing. She extols the talents, intellect, and energy of the women and men within her company, foreseeing a future where both emerge as influential leaders in their own right.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, Emily’s story serves as an example of adaptation, reminding us of the transformative power of resilience, determination, and openness in driving progress within the manufacturing industry.