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Women in manufacturing? Absolutely

Grandville — “You have to learn to be OK with being uncomfortable sometimes, and that’s not easy,” Alyssa Johncock said, speaking to a group of young women at Grandville High School. “The sciences is still sometimes a tough place to be as a female, but it’s nice to smash people’s expectations.”

Johncock, a senior research scientist at Amway, was part of a four-person panel invited to speak to interested students as part of GHS’ inaugural Women’s Inclusion in Manufacturing Series. Approximately 20 students have opted in to the year-long exploration of manufacturing and industry career pathways, open to all but specifically designed for female students. 

The four women panelists, who work in various manufacturing departments at Amway, spoke to students about their primary responsibilities, opportunities for on-the-job training, the importance of mentoring and what their education paths have looked like after high school. They also answered questions from students on topics like specialized training, the factory work environment and how to find the right fit in manufacturing.

The panel was one of several events planned for students participating in the Women’s Inclusion in Manufacturing Series. In the coming months, students will take part in a “soft skills” workshop to learn about networking, interviewing and creating a resume; attend a “women in industry” breakfast; and take a tour of three different manufacturing areas at Amway. They will also have an opportunity to do a one-on-one job shadow with women in various manufacturing departments within Amway. 

“I think it’s really refreshing and reassuring for students to hear that most people take a variety of twists and turns before they land on what they ultimately want to do,” said counselor Lori Koza, who helped organize the series with fellow counselor Brittany Steenland and Erin Tarkington, a career readiness consultant at Kent ISD. “In the last year or so, we’ve been trying to find more and more opportunities to give students a connection to careers. … We really want to make sure they know their options.”

Added Steenland: “We wanted to make sure that women know that there could be a place for them in this field in particular, that they might not know about otherwise. Breaking that glass ceiling is a huge piece of it — that socially and culturally, they can go above and beyond.”

Read more from Grandville: 
Scrub up, it’s time for English
Educators, legislators talk teacher pay, diversity

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Beth Heinen Bell
Beth Heinen Bell
Beth Heinen Bell is associate editor, reporter and copy editor. She is an award-winning journalist who got her professional start as the education reporter for the Grand Haven Tribune. A Calvin University graduate and proud former Chimes editor, she later returned to Calvin to help manage its national writing festival. Beth has also written for The Grand Rapids Press and several West Michigan businesses and nonprofits. She is fascinated by the nuances of language, loves to travel and has strong feelings about the Oxford comma. Read Beth's full bio


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