BEING A WOMAN in the Manufacturing World
A Growing Minority

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While still a minority compared to the number of men, many women work in various roles in the manufacturing industry. Here, we highlight three women who work at the manufacturing and engineering firm Benchmark in Rochester, Minnesota, and get a peek into their manufacturing world.

 

Tell me about your position.

Amy Hocraffer, a technical program manager in engineering at Benchmark who’s worked for the company for about five years, highlights some areas of her work. “I help customers design a prototype and do prototypes of a variety of products. I develop the product so they can manufacture it.” Hocraffer describes, “I interface with customers and Benchmark staff, test proofs of concepts, coordinate various steps of projects and manage several projects. I keep the wheels on.” 

Amy Bassett is also a technical program manager in engineering at Benchmark who’s worked there for more than seven years. In her work, she says, “I focus on prototypes and product introduction.” She explains she is involved with products from early in the process and early prototype through manufacturing.

Alanna Kieffer, currently a team lead 2 on the manufacturing floor at Benchmark, has worked in several positions in the company for more than 30 years. In her position, she explains, “I cover when the supervisor is gone and give coworkers’ direction when they report in the morning.” As a team lead 2, she sees many aspects of the manufacturing process of products and works with people in a variety of roles at Benchmark.

 

What do you enjoy about what you do?

“I want to work on projects that help everyday people. The stuff we’re doing affects people,” considers Hocraffer. “It’s enjoyable to get my hands on devices and interact with devices that help people’s lives.” 

“I like working for Benchmark. I see a variety of products over time, and I see a lot of variability and challenges,” adds Bassett. She notes that she seeks out challenging programs and enjoys that.

Kieffer mentions, “I like working with people. People are very nice and willing to do anything for you.” She notes she works with people of a variety of ages and cultures, too. Kieffer says she likes what she’s doing and likes to keep busy. “The days go by fast.”

 

How do you think you bring a different or unique perspective to your position as a woman?

Hocraffer has observed that manufacturing is generally male dominated. But, she says, being a woman in the industry has helped her forge bonds with other women she works with. 

Bassett agrees. “With similar experiences, you can relate to each other.”

“It was all men in the beginning,” Kieffer remembers back to when she started. “Now there’s a lot more women and women engineers.”

Bassett explains, “Women are definitely a minority in the industry.” She says there’s still a long way to go, but there have been steps made in the right direction. Bassett shares, “We bring a unique perspective; we have a work-life balance, and we can balance multiple tasks in a day. We can sit under pressure and remain calm.”

“An advantage to being a woman is a number of devices are geared to mostly women. So having someone who shares that experience working with them can help avoid pitfalls that a woman may see,” notes Hocraffer.

“Bringing women into manufacturing gives an environment that’s more inviting to minorities in general and challenges norms,” reflects Bassett. ::

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Alison is a writer and editor living in Rochester, Minnesota, with her two dogs and her cat.

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