“Who run the world? GIRLS!”
In the words of James Brown – “This is a man’s world” but times are changing! It is becoming more and more apparent in the bearing industry that the number of women working in technological companies is on the rise.
This topic has been in the news a lot recently, with many role models, celebrities and female UN ambassadors encouraging equality in work places with the HeforShe campaign.
According to a Huffpost, 45% of the workforce in the UK are made up of women, however only 15.5% of this figure is women working in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers, this has been put down to women feeling isolated in these generally very male dominated work places. So we put it to the test and asked our female BearingNet members at the Riga User Meeting what they thought of being the minority in this very male industry, and what they think of there being more and more women in the bearing industry nowadays.
Jenny Palling, Admin Manager at BearingNet, told us how she was the first woman to work for BearingNet back when it was a very small company with just 4 employees. Jenny studied Humanities at University and started at BearingNet in 2000 as the book-keeper, without a real interest in bearings or the power transmission industry. However, after working in the industry for 14 years Jenny’s interest in the market has increased, “bearings are a product that do not go out of fashion!”
At the very first BearingNet User Meeting that Jenny attended in Prague in 2005 , there were maybe a dozen women and this year we welcomed 52!
Maria from Carter Manufacturing UK told us how nervous and intimidated she felt at her first User Meeting in Warsaw, there were very few women delegates and she wanted to turn around and leave! Over the past years there has been more and more women in attendance at the meetings and would encourage more and more women to get into the industry. “Don’t be frightened” is the advice that Maria would give to any women looking to get into a generally male dominated industry such as bearings and power transmission.
All of the female delegates that we spoke to really enjoyed their jobs and being at the meeting, getting to know different companies and seeing each other face to face to create long lasting business relationships. However, a large number of these delegates said they were often ignored when they had a male colleague around as they were mistaken for a receptionist or assistant when approached (even those who held a higher position in their companies in comparison to their male colleagues!).
Our BearingNet members seem to be taking equality in the work place very seriously with more and more women working in the industry.
Christina Speiser, PEER, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Media Studies and Customer Management, a Masters in International Marketing and Communications and can also speak Chinese! She has always wanted to work for a technological company and started working at PEER seven months ago. She enjoys the modern management style that they have adopted with regards to equality of their workforce, with over 1/3 of staff being female. The same also applies for Amanda Ni, Changzhou Mouette Machinery Co Ltd in China, where the majority of employees in the office is actually
female. Not only do women do the sales and marketing of bearings in China but the numbers of women getting involved in the technicalities, such as inspection and manufacturing of bearings, is also increasing. Both Christina and Amanda would encourage women to get into a technical industry to work in and their advice is to know what you’re talking about, know the products basic knowledge. It’s a very interesting industry!
It has been proven that men and women’s brains work in different ways. A recent study evaluated reactions and brain patterns finding that men had stronger links between coordinated actions and perceptions whereas women’s brains showed more rationality and planning. Carol Poelma from Bega Special Tools in Amsterdam, believes this study in correct.
“It is advantageous to be a woman in this industry. My advice is to get stuck into it, especially with the technical training if you have the opportunity. We communicate differently to men, we’re understood in a different way and I think this is a good thing!”
Carol trained as a high level secretary in Amsterdam and started working for husband Frank’s family business 25 years ago, running the marketing and PR, she was the first woman to work for the business who now have five female employees.
A lot of women working in STEM companies have spoken about the difficulties that they have had to overcome when working in these industries, where specific jobs were defined as “male” with no encouragement for women to be introduced. For these reasons parents and teachers are being encouraged to discuss work places as gender neutral so the stigma of dirty and gritty engineering jobs is removed and they are taken for what they are now… professional careers.
Two women that have collectively worked in the bearing industry for 46 years are Louise Foster and Susan Rudd from George Lodge and Sons in the UK. Susan started working at George Lodge 30 years ago as an office junior with the help of her feisty boss Diane Baker, after 20 years Susan became the Business Sales Manager at the company and her product knowledge has increased in that time too. Louise has been the Purchasing Manager at George Lodge for six years. Both women agreed that they have had to deal with challenges such as being mistaken as the receptionist on the phone to clients but believe they have been overcome. Their advice to women is “to get your hands on the product, don’t sit and hide behind the computer screen…have confidence in yourself!” Both Paola and Marcella from Cantoni Cuscinetti also agree that “women must learn the bearings to
be taken seriously in a generally male industry.”
Though there is still a large gap in the ratio of women to men in STEM careers it is good to see that the gap is starting to decrease with the number of women working in the bearing and power transmission industries rising.