Celebrating a History of Tough Women

Mothers - Women Who Get Stuff Done

This Mother’s Day, the Little Giant Ladders team is celebrating the tough mothers out there; the women both in and out of the workforce who get stuff done. And because we work in manufacturing, we wanted to take some time to recognize those women who proudly work in the manufacturing industry, too.

A History of Tough Mothers in Manufacturing

There is a long and rich history of incredible women making things happen throughout history, women who got stuff done, despite their circumstances. In the 1940s, in the midst of World War 2, women were finally given the opportunity and were encouraged to enter the workforce. Icons like Rosie the Riveter inspired women to work in manufacturing to assist in the war effort.

This time period allowed women to grow and develop, and for many women, this was their first experience having financial independence by having a career of their own. This financial freedom allowed women living in difficult situations to bring more meals to the table, to make personal purchases, to treat their children and to afford better education or accommodations for their families.

In the 1970s there was another push for women in the workplace, with women rallying for fairer wages and equal opportunities. With the advancement of technology, tasks that had once solely required intense physical exertion that were deemed appropriate for only the largest of men, were now easy and safe enough to operate for men and women of all sizes. It was during this push in the 1970s, that the iconography of Rosie the Riveter made a comeback. Since then, Rosie has become a symbol of female empowerment.

Women in Manufacturing Today

Over the years, there has been a lot of growth in the opportunities afforded to women in the workplace, but there always is room for further improvement and better conditions. Over the years, more and more women have gravitated toward manufacturing as a rewarding career path, and today, we see so many incredible women paving the path for continued growth in their fields, and we can't wait to see what else they can accomplish.

According to the Manufacturing Institute, women who work in manufacturing today have strong ideals they consider when choosing a position in manufacturing. Some of the most important factors noted by the Manufacturing Institute include:

  • Real opportunities for career progression
  • Positive work/life balance
  • Competitive pay
  • Challenging and interesting work

The women of today are looking for interesting and sustainable work they can feel proud of. They want opportunities for growth, and they want fair compensation, but such opportunities are not always afforded to women, especially female minorities. Still, these strong women are making strides every day to make their voices heard, to grow and develop their skills, and to make a world that is better for future generations.

Advice to Women in the Workplace

We spoke with one of Little Giant’s employees, Anna Gabriel, about what it is like to work in manufacturing as a woman and as a mom. Anna has worked in manufacturing and other labor-intensive positions for most of her life. For many years, Anna worked in the manufacturing area at Little Giant, helping assemble ladders. More recently, seeing her strong work ethic and problem-solving abilities, management at Little Giant gave her the opportunity to move into administration at the company. This duality at having grown up working with her hands in manufacturing to the shift of office work has given her a unique perspective.

For her, and for many other women in the industry, manufacturing has been in the family for generations. She grew up surrounded by strong men and women who worked with their hands and found joy in a hard day’s work. While working in manufacturing, she and her female coworkers enjoyed learning new things on the job every day, the reliability of the work, and more than anything, the way it helped them support their families.

Not every day is easy for women who work in industrial positions across America, though. Although there is a lot of equality in the work, many women note that when working side by side with the men in their department, the men try to show off and outdo the women. The women in the workplace often have a harder time rising up and getting promotions than the men do.

For Anna, she said that finding a community of women in her position was helpful. By bonding with the fellow Latinas working with her on the machines, she felt a good internal support system. “Latinos are family-oriented. Even if you aren’t family, they lift and help one another up. You become part of their family.” Anna said.

When asked what her biggest advice to other women in manufacturing would be, Anna said, “There is a confidence that comes from believing in yourself and believing that you can do something different. Prove yourself. Believe in yourself. Believe that you can do the job as good or better than anyone else. Go to work. Do your job. Have the mindset that you can do it.”

Women who work in manufacturing are mothers, daughters, sisters, friends and neighbors. All of our lives have been touched by strong women who chose to rise up and make a difference. Today, for Mother’s Day, take some time to thank those women. And the next time you climb your Little Giant Ladder or use one of your other tools, remember that it was probably made by a tough, resilient mother who gets stuff done.