Then & Now: Women in the Workplace Series – Part 7

Welcome to the seventh, and final 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

Interview with Kylie Harer

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 Candy Eschbach

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

CANDY: I have been employed here since April 2018. Currently I work in Mechanical Assembly, specifically with guarding, but I’ve also been helping with mechanical build, and I would like to also help in electrical for opportunities to branch out.

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

CANDY: I was looking to change careers and was encouraged to apply. I’m a hands-on person and a fast learner. I like to keep busy. I knew Douglas was a good company with good people, and that there were opportunities to grow and develop new skills. Coming to Douglas was a big shock, mostly because of the completely different atmosphere from other places of employment. At my previous job, it was hard to get time off if I needed to take care of my family. At Douglas family is a priority, not just work. In addition, everybody knows what to do, so there’s no need to micromanage or to be micromanaged. There is a family atmosphere here. We share meals, and most people say hi and are in a cheery disposition. People seem to like coming to work.

3. In a nutshell, what do you do?

CANDY: I put on the machine guards to protect people from getting injured when they operate our machines.

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

CANDY: I was raising a family.

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

CANDY: At Douglas specifically, not many women work on the assembly floor. I managed a restaurant previously and there are lots of female managers and employees in that line of work. Coming here there were a lot more males, which took some adjustment. It would be nice to see more women work on the floor.

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

CANDY: I’m the only female. My teammates are good. They are friendly, helpful and team-orientated.

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

CANDY: Women today don’t rely as much on men to handle all the money and finances. Instead, women get to make their own way, put their stamp on the world, and have skills for themselves. Now more women are fighting for equal wages, for their worth. There is more progress toward equality. I think these changes have occurred because more women want to be independent and have their own paychecks.

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

CANDY: 25%.

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

CANDY: Even if you doubt your skills, try it! Try something simple first: using a drill or a tool, and go from there. You might not have the specific skills required, or you might doubt the skills you already have, but once you say “I can do this” or “I could teach this” it opens up opportunities.

10. Do you have any other comments you would like to share?

CANDY: In considering why more women aren’t employed in this line of work, I wonder if women question if they have the skills to be in this kind of environment. I also think a lot of women gravitate to office jobs because being pregnant when working on the production floor or in a job that is more physically demanding is a lot more difficult. Trying to balance family life and work life, especially in a leadership role, can be challenging. Also, I wish there were more job shadows for women and girls, especially in high schools. I would like to see schools encouraging women to do more mechanical classes.

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