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Hudson Valley Manufacturing Workforce Center Receives Grant from Rowley Family Foundation

Johnnieanne Hansen with the Rowley Family accepting a grant from the Rowley Family Foundation to help HVMWC encourage women and girls to pursue careers in manufacturing.

 

The Rowley Family Foundation’s new Fund for Women and Children awarded grants to 15 organizations in Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster counties including The Hudson Valley Manufacturing Workforce Center, Inc. The awards, totaling $516,791, all had a common goal of supporting innovative programs geared towards empowering women and children.

The Hudson Valley Manufacturing Workforce Center, Inc. received $16,000 to create videos targeting the young women of the tri-county region, that can be used on GoMakeIt.org., in classroom presentations and on social media. These videos will spotlight women in manufacturing at all levels from apprentices to engineers and showcase the many opportunities for success available throughout the region. They will encourage young women to visualize themselves in rewarding careers allowing them to earn a living wage, raise their families and thrive in the Hudson Valley. Videos and programs like www.gomakeit.org help connect women with local jobs, encourage them to enroll in apprenticeships and assist them in taking the first step towards a fulfilling career.

“This grant will go a long way in helping increase the visibility of the career opportunities available in manufacturing right now and hopefully encourage more women to consider this as an option. From middle school girls learning to code or design on computers, to women re-entering the workforce and those interested in a STEM career, manufacturing is an excellent path to pursue,” explains Johnnieanne Hansen, Executive Director, Hudson Valley Manufacturing Workforce Center, Inc.

The newly created Fund for Women and Children is a unique philanthropic effort designed to identify and address pressing issues impacting some of the most vulnerable members of our community. Through targeted and specific funding, the goal of this initiative is for nonprofits in the region to elevate their programming to empower the women and children of Orange, Sullivan and Ulster Counties. Grants were awarded in sums ranging from $15,000 to $50,000. The other recipients: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County, $23,268, Children’s Rights Society, Inc., $46,364, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, $15,000, Newburgh Free Library, $25,000; Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, $50,000; Regional Economic Community Action Program, $40,610; Sullivan County Community College, $35,000; Sullivan 180, Inc., $17,000; Center for Creative Education, $50,000; Ellenville Regional Hospital, $49,063; Ulster Community College Foundation, Inc., $30,000; St. Luke’s Cornwall Health System Foundation, Inc., $50,000; Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster, $44,236; and Braeside Camp, $25,250.

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The Need for Women in Manufacturing

 

Since March is Women’s History Month we wanted to take this opportunity to talk about women in manufacturing. Women first began entering the workforce during World War I when a large number of jobs were vacated by men who had gone to fight in the war. There was a shortage of workers and an increasing number of jobs being created as part of the war effort. This led to the rise of women entering the workforce, more specifically the manufacturing industry.    

Today women represent nearly half of the total US workforce (47%), yet they comprise less than a third (27%) of manufacturing jobs. “In nearly 100 years, there has been a meager 8% increase in the number of female employees in the manufacturing industry. Not the kind of stellar advancement anyone would like to see.”

Currently over 32% of women switch out of STEM degree programs in college, only 30% of women who earn bachelor’s degree in engineering are still working in engineering 20 years later and of the women who have left the engineering profession 30% cite organizational climate and lack of mentorship as the reason.

There are a variety of reason for these statistics but Women in Manufacturing (WIM) conducted several surveys that found very few respondents listing manufacturing as a field that offers opportunities for women, and only about half could recall a manufacturing company they would consider a leader in attracting and promoting women. After seeing these results its not surprising that women aren’t entering the manufacturing field. However, there are steps manufacturers can take to make a difference.

The negative perception of manufacturing jobs has contributed greatly to the skills gap, but if that attitude can be changed it will be beneficial to the entire industry. Working directly with young high school and college level students to change those inaccurate judgements about manufacturing can make these jobs more appealing to young men and women. Speaking with educators and parents about the high-quality, good paying jobs available in manufacturing can help break down some of these stereotypes.

Mentors can also be a major factor in attracting women to the industry. “According to “Why So Few?” by the American Association of University Women in 2010, ‘Mentorship is often cited as a key strategy for exciting, supporting, and keeping students, young scientists, and engineers in the fields of STEM. This is particularly true for individuals who haven’t historically participated in these areas—such as young women and underrepresented minorities.’”

Creating opportunities for young girls to get hand-on experience in the STEM fields can also make an impact. Increasing the amount of positive exposure when girls are young will increase their knowledge of opportunities in manufacturing later on. Participating in events like National Manufacturing Day can be instrumental in showcasing the benefits of a career in manufacturing.

Younger generations also value opportunities to make a difference. Many jobs within the manufacturing industry have that potential. Author of 5 Ways to Increase the Number of Women in the Manufacturing Industry, Pamela Kan, said “Talking with the engineers at my company, they have all said – many times – that what they most love about the manufacturing industry is the ability to take their schooling and innate interests and make a difference by creating something new that can help a customer.”

We need women in the manufacturing industry and these small but impactful actions can make a huge difference. Changing the conversation at an early age and exposing young girls to STEM can make a huge difference down the line.

For more details you can read the full article here.

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