Equipping Women for Success in Manufacturing: WiMEF's Educational Programs
Empowering women in the manufacturing industry drives Women in Manufacturing’s mission and in 2016 the Women in Manufacturing Education Foundation (WiMEF) was established to provide valuable resources and support to women at different stages of their manufacturing careers. “When I think about what the Education Foundation really is, the reason it exists is to close the gender gap, to increase representation of women in leadership roles, and to inspire the next generation of women in manufacturing,” says WiMEF’s Executive Director Gretchen Moore.
With a focus on leadership development and skill enhancement, the Education Foundation offers a constellation of programs designed to equip women with the necessary tools and knowledge to succeed in the manufacturing industry. The foundation offers a virtual learning series as well as three educational programs each designed for a specific audience.
The Virtual Learning Series is a monthly webinar offered free to all WiM members and features experts on various topics such as imposter syndrome, how to be an effective manager and how to negotiate. The recorded webinars are also available in the Education Foundation’s Virtual Learning Library, where members can check them out whenever they see fit. “We have many HR managers who will check out the recordings to use as a Lunch and Learn series at their workplace,” explains Moore. With over 9,000 women having participated in the Virtual Learning Series, the program has proven to be a valuable resource.
The foundation’s three virtual education programs are cohort based and each focuses on meeting the needs of women looking for practical strategies and tactics to lead and succeed in their manufacturing careers.
The Leadership Institute for Women, conducted in partnership with Case Western Reserve University and offered once per year, focuses on mid-to-high level senior leaders working in manufacturing and male-dominated careers. The three-month intensive executive management program includes individual coaching and assessments, providing a comprehensive experience that enhances executive capabilities.
The Management Development Program focuses on providing mid-career professionals with essential managerial skills. Offered twice a year, it’s two weeks of coursework over the course of two months. “It’s focused on helping women who are new or aspiring managers get quickly up to speed on management skills,” says Moore. “We bring in a different expert each day to share effective approaches to leadership, geared toward women working in industry.” At 20-25 people per cohort, the program is interactive with plenty of peer-based learning.
Empowering Women in Production was created to take on the challenges faced by women in production roles and to accelerate career growth. “It's designed to address the broken rung that women face in male-dominated industries,” says Moore. “If you don't have access to that first promotion, or that first leadership opportunity, it impacts the trajectory of your career. So, this is about providing the skills and tools to help repair that broken rung.” With a focus on problem solving, leadership fundamentals, communication skills, time management and more, the program equips women with the tools to advance in their careers. Offered three times per year, the asynchronous program features pre-recorded content for flexible learning over the course of the 20-week period. There is also a monthly peer-learning session as well as one on one coaching. “We've only been offering this since 2021 and we've already had 435 women enroll in the program. There's nothing out there like this.”
Each education program includes one-on-one coaching as well as opportunities for participants to engage with their peers. “The coaching and peer networking are unique to the WiMEF programs,” says Moore. “We provide a platform for women who work in manufacturing to connect with other women who share their experiences. Each participant is paired with a professional coach who can help them develop their skills and strengths, specific to a manufacturing career.” The programs culminate with a virtual graduation where attendees don graduation caps, invite family and colleagues and share heartfelt testimonials about what the program has meant to their careers.
WiMEF’s effective and affordable educational opportunities not only equip women with skills and support to help them thrive in their manufacturing careers, they also help them establish a robust peer network among participants that fosters deep support and a greater sense of belonging in the industry. “They learn to believe in themselves, and they learn to trust in themselves,” says Moore. “And they experience the power of women supporting women.”
Click here to learn more about WiMEF and the wide range of educational programs they offer.