In honor of Women’s History Month this March, we highlight Sarah Stuart, who has been fixing factories for over 20 years with the team at Impact Washington, an MEP National Network member.
She joined the organization as a third-party Resource Partner. “I loved that I could work with a team, even as a sole proprietor of my own company,” she said. “On a good day, I get to go visit clients. I love seeing what they make. Factories are fascinating.”
Stuart is an Account Executive and Process Specialist at Impact Washington and still is passionate about it after two decades and counting. “Manufacturing is such an integral part of the quality of life in the United States. If we can help companies thrive and grow, I love being a part of that.”
According to a 2022 U.S. Department of Commerce article, about 47% of the workforce is women. In manufacturing, only 30% of the workforce is women, and only one in four women hold leadership positions. However, those numbers have been rising year after year—one possible reason: the average woman in manufacturing earned 16% more than the average woman.
One way to attract more women to manufacturing and help close the gender gap further is to encourage girls to study STEM subjects in school at an early age, the report said. Some universities offer college credits to girls in manufacturing programs in middle and high school.
However, it's never too late for people of any age to make manufacturing their career path — whether it's working in a factory, creating a product, or spending time at a place like Impact Washington, where they can assist in streamlining processes and make manufacturing companies more successful with a variety of resources, including leadership training and more.
Stuart still is happy – two decades later – that she followed the manufacturing path. And she has some advice for those looking to enter the sector.
“Find an advocate that will help you meet your goals,” Stuart said.
This is a highlight in a series of articles shared throughout 2023. Impact Washington recognizes women, past and present, who have, in all forms, impacted manufacturing in Washington state. Look for other National Women's History Month Highlights in our blog