We have all heard the stories and seen pictures of women in manufacturing while the men fought in World War II (think Rosie the Riveter). Why is it, more than 70 years later, that women’s numbers in industry are still so few?
In the 1940s, widespread advertising by governments and industry encouraged housewives to fill the gaps in these roles. They made simple arguments, such as: “Can you use an electric mixer? If so, you can learn to operate a drill.” Women heeded the call and succeeded in keeping the plants operating. Alas, the industry reverted to a predominantly male state when the war and advertising ended.
This real-life case study illustrates how career decisions are influenced by simple awareness, advocacy, personal encouragement, professional mentoring, and leadership opportunities. Female industrial professionals today are quick to credit these factors for their choice of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers.