When Women Are at the Table, Manufacturing Wins

Sentry Equipment
The women of Sentry Equipment

The women of Sentry Equipment

Today, Sentry Equipment employs thirty-four female employee-owners, with nine in manager roles. Some of these women discussed how they got started in manufacturing and what their experience in the traditionally male industry has been so far. Their stories lead to four points for why manufacturing is a great career choice for women.

Why choose a manufacturing career?

According to the Census Bureau, women make up 47.5% of the overall workforce, but only 29% are in manufacturing – a percentage that hasn’t changed much since the 1970s.

Yet, research shows that gender diversity benefits a manufacturing firm through improved ability to innovate, higher return on equity, and increased profitability.

So how can we encourage more women to get into manufacturing? By taking a proactive approach in discussing why the manufacturing industry is a vibrant, compelling career choice for women for four reasons:


1. You Get to See the Big Picture

The women on the panel all agreed that being in the manufacturing industry helped them see how small parts fit together to make up the bigger picture. This perspective is what keeps their careers and the modern world run smoothly.

"I was always enamored with manufacturing since its presence is everywhere,” said Jamie Staat, Sentry Equipment’s Controller.

Karen Jones, Director of Commercial Operations, agreed. “I like being part of making things happen.” 


2. Mentors in Manufacturing Make the Difference 

Heidi Balestrieri, Director of Engineering, said she’s had many mentors throughout the years, including her dad and a female engineering manager at a previous company.  

This manager attended a meeting in Saudi Arabia, where she had to handle cultural stigma around gender. Although customers on the trip wouldn’t address her, she persevered. “As an engineer and an engineering manager, I am inspired by her,” remarked Heidi at the time.

These dedicated mentors also exist internally.  According to Karen Jones, Director of Commercial Operations, "I have had some other great mentors here at Sentry. Two of my previous managers were great about creating a safe environment and encouraging me to push myself and to try things without worrying about failure."

3. You Get to Handle the Grit with Grace

“Manufacturing takes somebody that wants the grit and a little chaos,” mentioned Karen. 

Megan Weber (Patterson), Sentry's Production Manager, agreed. “The only way to increase your success zone is by increasing your comfort zone. And the only way to increase your comfort zone is by putting yourself in uncomfortable situations. Every day we should be trying to put ourselves in these situations so we can increase that success zone,” she said.


4. Work/Life Balance is Possible

Many women on the panel said the manufacturing industry is surprisingly flexible for employees balancing the twin demands of family and work.

“I think this is a great industry to have that kind of flexibility in your life and in your career,” said Lipi Hurtado, the Operations Manager for Sentry Equipment’s Houston facility.

Having started her career in the world of hospitality management, Megan confirmed. By working in manufacturing, she now has a better work/life balance that lets her spend quality time with her daughter.

What's Stopping Women From Starting Their Manufacturing Careers?

"Manufacturing has a long-standing reputation of being a man's career. But after being in manufacturing for over 5 years now, I have found that its reputation is in contrast of itself. Manufacturing can be innovative, unique, and a career for all. And being a woman brings incredible value into changing that perception," said Kate Moreland, Digital Marketing Manager.

The panel agreed that one of the biggest barriers to women being in manufacturing careers is exposure from an early age. To help combat this, Sentry Equipment routinely reaches out to schools and younger people to help break the stigma of women in manufacturing.

Heidi and three other female engineers helped a Girl Scout Troop engineer miniature zip line carriers and discussed their careers.

“One little girl raised her hand and said, ‘Can boys be engineers too?’” Heidi recalled. “That was the best feeling ever.”

It is these kinds of experiences that expose girls to manufacturing and engineering careers that will challenge them at every phase of their lives.

Overall, this group agreed that taking chances and giving Manufacturing a try was the best thing that happened to them. But Karen sums it up best, “What bad thing's going to happen? Try it.”


Headshot of author Sentry Equipment

Written by Sentry Equipment

With proven sampling expertise since 1924, Sentry products and services provide business operations the critical insights to optimize process control and product quality. We deliver true representative sampling and analysis techniques to customers around the globe, empowering them to accurately monitor and measure processes for improved production efficiency, output and safety. Standing behind our commitments, we are determined to tackle any application, anywhere.

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