Then & Now: Women in the Workplace Series – Part 6

Welcome to the sixth installment of Women in the Workplace Series. If you’d like to read the previous articles, check out the links below!

Interview with Pat Thoen

Interview with Becky Iverson

Interview with Therese Jakes

Interview with Jackie Caron

Interview with Brenda Larson

Did you know that just over 11% of all Douglas Machine employees are female?

In order to get a credible perspective on the women who have been employed at Douglas since the company was first established in 1964, seven women were interviewed, including one retiree and six current employees. Their work spans every decade of Douglas’ existence and therefore provides insight into the experiences of women in the workplace over time, the variety of work that women have contributed to Douglas, and their advice for women who are interested in working in a similar industry.

Interview with Kylie Harer

1. How long have you worked at Douglas, and in what position/s?

KYLIE: Two years as a Mechanical Engineer.

2. What drew you to this line of work? What specifically brought you to Douglas?

KYLIE: Growing up on a farm, I was always mechanically inclined. I spent time with my dad when he was running harvesting machinery. I’d be assisting him and giving him his tools. It gave me hands-on experience and I got to see what was being done. Helping him out sparked my interest in mechanical engineering. What brought me specifically to Douglas was the faith-based values. There was a different feel at Douglas compared to other places I interviewed. The people at Douglas care about you and who you are. I also had a family friend that moved here, and they recommended the company to me.

3. In a nutshell, what do you do?

KYLIE: I work in the Top Load business unit. It is a newer business unit so many of our machines require troubleshooting, along with designing and detailing. In a nutshell, we design packaging machines for customers.

4. Were you married and/or were you raising a family when you started working at Douglas?

KYLIE: Neither.

5. Was it usual for women to be working at the time when you started? Did many of your friends and female peers work?

KYLIE: At the school I went to, our male to female ratio was higher than bigger universities, but a lot of women I went to school with started having families and stopped working, while others had full time jobs before graduation. A lot of my female friends work, including those who have jobs outside of engineering.

6. How many of the people on your team are also female? What is that like?

KYLIE: None. Sometimes it’s difficult, but it can be nice. There can be a lot going on and it’s sometimes a high stress situation. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have someone to relate to. But there are other women around I can go talk to, so I’m not completely isolated. Ten years ago I may have been more isolated.

7. In your opinion, how has the role of women in the workplace changed over time?Why do you think those changes have occurred?

KYLIE: I would say gender roles have changed. You have stay-at-home dads now, whereas before men used to be the bread-winners. Now females are taking on that role too. A lot more women are getting degrees and going into the workforce. It’s continuing to improve. People are acknowledging the gender wage gap to make that less prevalent.

8. If you were to guess, what percentage of Douglas employees today do you think are women?

KYLIE: 11% companywide; 5% or less in engineering specifically.

9. What advice would you give women who are considering working in this industry?

KYLIE: There will always be a balance of good times and stressful times. I’ve experienced when someone doesn’t value your opinion because you’re a female voice. Don’t be afraid to put your foot down. Respect yourself so you can gain the respect of others. There may be people who don’t like that, but times are changing. It’s not as hard as it used to be. It can be fun, so don’t give up.

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