Personal perspectives inform ‘Women in Manufacturing’

Reaching the summit: Gains by women in manufacturing fields will be the focus of Suffolk County Community College's Women in Manufacturing/STEM Summit, Oct. 6 in Brentwood.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Some of Long Island’s most influential manufacturing leaders will come together Oct. 6 to discuss the role of women in engineering and technology-related fields – something this particular panel knows all about.

As part of Suffolk County Community College’s Women in Manufacturing/STEM Summit, the Women in Manufacturing Panel and Video Screening will shine a light on the ways professional passions and specific workforce needs are fueling new science, technology, engineering and mathematics education on Long Island – and how this can specifically empower female students.

The presentation incudes the premiere of an educational video funded by the Workforce Development Institute – an Albany-based nonprofit that supports statewide job growth and retention through business-improvement grants and collaborations with industry, academia and government – and co-produced by WDI and Recruit Long Island, with a hand from Coram-based Switch Media.

The video, “LI Makers: Women in Manufacturing,” profiles numerous regional women who’ve made a name in various manufacturing-related roles, from a precision welder at Farmingdale’s EB Industries to a production manager at Westbury’s Spectronics Corp. to multiple C-suite execs and business owners.

After the screening, several of the featured woman are expected to take part in the roundtable discussion, which is slated to be moderated by WDI Long Island Regional Director Rosalie Drago.

Scheduled to participate are Evelyn Marchany, vice president of technical operations and site head at international healthcare conglomerate Novartis’ Melville operation; Justine Haupt, an optical and mechanical design engineer working on Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Large Synoptic Survey Telescope; and Alie Shaper, founder of Brooklyn Oenology Winery, which produces in partnership with Peconic Cellar Door.

Also expected to join the conversation are Doreen Guarneri, creator and co-owner of Huntington Station’s American Culture brand hair products and Greenlawn’s The Look Spa Salon, and Felicia Fleitman, owner of Westbury-based strategic internship/workforce development firm Savvy Hires.

Fleitman is also the cofounder of Recruit Long Island, a multi-network social media community dedicated to Island workforce retention that co-produced “LI Makers: Women in Manufacturing.”

The video presentation and high-octane panel are worthy of a regional manufacturing industry that, while promising, has some considerable gaps to fill, according to Drago.

Rosalie Drago: The right women for the jobs.

“There are thousands of jobs in manufacturing for people with everything from a high school degree to a PhD,” the WDI regional director said. “And in many cases, those jobs are unfilled, or filled at the cost of paying to relocate someone to Long Island. In other words, not with local talent.”

But there would be local manufacturing talent to spare if more attention was focused on preparing female high school students for careers in STEM-related trades, according to Drago, who’s made a point of promoting and expanding regional workforce opportunities for women.

“We also have students coming back from college without jobs, and we have adult residents in career transitions,” she said. “There are perfect spots for all of these people in the manufacturing industries.

“We need to build up those pipelines,” Drago added. “We have to build awareness and outline these career paths and demonstrate the different ways people can gain access.”

And while these principles apply to both sexes, they “hold true especially for women for several reasons,” according to the workforce-development expert.

“When I visit manufacturing facilities on Long Island, I see women succeeding and helping companies succeed in production, engineering, marketing and senior leadership,” Drago said. “If you need an untapped pool of regional workers, this is a great place to start.”

“LI Makers: Women in Manufacturing” will be available online after the manufacturing/STEM summit, with “schools and workforce one-stops” expected to use the video as an educational tool, Drago said.

Featuring robotics demonstrations and other company presentations, the Women in Manufacturing/STEM Summit – co-sponsored by the WDI and the Girl Scouts of Suffolk County – is scheduled to run from 9:30 a.m. to noon Oct. 6 at SCCC’s Health, Sports and Education Center on the college’s Brentwood campus. Click here for registration and more information.