The International Women's Network: Leading the Way for Women in Manufacturing Globally


The International Women's Network: Leading the Way for Women in Manufacturing Globally

Women in Manufacturing’s influence and reach are expanding across borders with the International Women's Network (IWN). The recently launched program is emerging as a beacon of unity and empowerment for women in the manufacturing industry worldwide. This innovative program seeks not only to foster international connections but also to lay the foundation for the establishment of diverse global chapters, each representing the unique tapestry of women in manufacturing within their respective regions.

The IWN hosted its first event on March 3, 2023, at the John Deere facility in Zweibrecken, Germany. The hybrid meeting provided both in-person and virtual options. Those on-site had the chance to tour the John Deere factory and network, while online participants tuned in for exciting keynote talks on topics like 'The Status of Women in Manufacturing,' 'The Inspiring Journey of a Female Leader in Germany,' and 'How to Utilize WiM's Network for Career Growth.’

Melissa Rocha, Vice President of Global Sourcing at Kymera International, is an advisor for IWN and attended the first meeting virtually. “It was so interesting to see how much the overseas community is looking to establish a network like we have in the United States. It, too, is really strong on connecting and creating inspirations for our generations,” says Rocha. “We’re making sure that everybody’s daughters, sisters and mothers, if they want to enter the manufacturing world, they will not feel lonely. They will feel that it's possible and they will have role models to be inspired by,” Rocha adds.

Susanne Lauda, Director of Global Advanced Manufacturing Technology for AGCO Corporation, who has also been a part of the team behind IWN, echoes the importance of building a global network. “Having an international network is essential for two reasons. First, if you want to explore the world and maybe work in a different country for a while, it's good to have a network there. And vice versa, if you want to resource people from a different country, it's good to have a network there,” says Lauda.

Lauda has also found her own global connections to be extremely rewarding over the years. “Before I go to a country that I have not been before, I ping one of my female colleagues there. I will ask for some pointers such as what can I do as a woman, what should I not do as a woman, what should I wear, what should I not wear, so that I don't offend anybody,” Lauda explains.

The representation of women in the manufacturing industry differs across cultures, with figures typically aligning closely with or falling below those in the United States. “I remember being the only one in my class,” says Rocha, who is originally from Brazil. “Now it's totally different, but I believe on the engineering side, it's around 20% females and 80% males,” Rocha explains. Germany, where Lauda is originally from, sees a similar ratio in its manufacturing industry.

Lauda notes the value of WiM’s IWN in helping to change these numbers. “I have had a long career in manufacturing and the statistics have not changed much. It's still very few of us that are in manufacturing. It's getting a little bit better, but not in the percentages I would like to see. Networking is everything. Networks among women, networks globally, and networks globally among women,” says Lauda.

The next International Women's Network event will take place on April 23, 2024 in Buc, France. For more information, click here.