Jess Penny is the general manager of sales at hydraulic lifting equipment manufacturer Penny Hydraulics. In this article, she shares her experience of working within a male-dominated industry and her advice to any female looking to do the same.
When many women consider their next career move, they often rule out a position within a male-dominated industry such as manufacturing, engineering, or construction. In my opinion, this is a big mistake, as my experience has been nothing but positive.
I can honestly say that my sex has never held me back within the manufacturing industry. I have my sights set high for the future and, if I felt that attitudes towards women within this sector were going to prevent me becoming a well-respected director, I would leave it for another one. This simply isn’t the case, and I enjoy a fast-paced, varied, and rewarding job with great prospects for progression.
Having said that, you should know what to expect when you take a role within a male-dominated industry. For better or worse, most women come into the sector from a sales, marketing, or HR background and, as a result, the world of machinery, trucks and industrial plant equipment can come as quite a culture shock. But, in my opinion, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is the fastest way to grow and progress your career, and embracing the new environment is a great learning curve.
As a woman currently working in the manufacturing industry, my advice to any woman considering taking a job in a male-dominated sector is to go for it. You’re almost certainly going to be able to bring new ideas to the table, which is going to set you apart from the rest. Both you and the company you work for will benefit from this — you will build your skillset and expand your horizons, while they’ll benefit from a fresh perspective.
That isn’t to say there aren’t challenges that come with being a woman in the manufacturing industry. In my previous role at a marketing agency where there were roughly the same amount of men and women, I never felt assumptions were made about my skills by colleagues or customers. Unfortunately, the difference in the manufacturing industry has been that there is still a large proportion of people that assume I don’t have any technical knowledge because of my gender. However, this attitude is making its way out of the industry, and as more women take the leap and start a career in traditionally male-dominated sectors, the faster it will become a thing of the past.
If you’re a woman looking for a change of career and you thrive in an engaging and fast-paced environment, make sure you don’t rule out a role in an industry that is traditionally considered male-dominated. My experience within the manufacturing sector has been nothing but positive, and I would recommend any women looking for a change of pace to consider joining the industry as well.