Women of Today’s Manufacturing Panel Discussion at MakingChips headquarters in Rockford, IL.


  • Hannah Hines: A student at Rock Valley College who is completing her first year in the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program. She is learning about the different parts of an airplane and how they work together.
  • Joie Vittetow: An intern engineer at TAC Rockford. She has been interning for over a year. She is a senior at Northern Illinois University through the Rock Valley College engineering program, completing her Bachelor’s in mechanical engineering.
  • Toni Baumann: A technical fashion designer for Rock Valley’s Starlight theatre Shop and at Tad More Tailoring. Toni uses her background in engineering, architectural design, hand drafting, and AutoCAD to help design and create her garments.
  • Penny Bauer: Co-owner of Uniwest Enterprises,, Inc. in Rockford,, Illinois. Uniwest specializes in machine tool sales and services, and provides support to the industrial , educational, and private sectors.
photos of Joie Vittetow, Penny Bauer, Hannah Hines, and Toni Baumann.

Manufacturing Statistics

The Manufacturing Institute, APICS (global leader in supply chain certification) , and Deloitte surveyed more than 600 women and conducted nearly 20 manufacturing executive interviews to explore how effectively manufacturing companies are attracting, recruiting, and retaining women, and what should be done to close the gender gap.

The survey also reported that women totaled 47% of the U.S. workforce in 2016, but only represented 29% of the manufacturing workforce.

The National Association of Manufacturing’s Outlook survey reported:

Over the past 6 consecutive quarters, manufacturing’s top concern has been the ability to attract and retain a quality workforce, so half a million jobs are open in manufacturing now, and it’s expected that about 4.6 million manufacturing positions will need to be filled over the next decade.

The survey also highlighted how women represent one of the largest pools of untapped talent for manufacturing,.

Panel Questions

  1. What are your thoughts and opinions of why women are underrepresented in the manufacturing industry? Is is a lack of interest, misconceptions of manufacturing of it being dark, dirty, dangerous, and dull?
  2. What attracted you to the industry?
  3. Research shows that including women in the manufacturing space not only improves the ability for a company to innovate and grow, but there is also a higher return on equity, increased profitability, a diverse set of ideas, strategic thinking for problem solving and idea generation, and culture where unique strengths can thrive.
    1. In your opinion, what things do you believe women bring to the industry that is different from what men bring?
    2. How can a community like Rockford, which is manufacturing focus, attract, recruit, and retain more women to the industry, and when should these efforts start?
  4. What are the benefits for women to get involved in not just manufacturing, but other STEM programs and initiatives?

Panel Discussion Sponsor

We want to thank MakingChips for sponsoring our event.

MakingChips is a marketing agency that focuses on inspiring and equipping leaders to be successful in the manufacturing industry.