Women in Manufacturing

Empowering women in manufacturing isn't just about breaking barriers; it's about welding dreams, forging possibilities, and engineering a future where strength knows no gender.

Despite comprising nearly half of the workforce in the United Kingdom, women currently represent only 26% of workers in the manufacturing industry. At Steelway we recognise the vital role women play in driving innovation, fostering diversity, and propelling industries forward. We have increased female employment by 50% since 2020, and we remain steadfast in our dedication to fostering an inclusive environment where every woman's potential is recognised and valued. Join us in creating a supportive community, breaking down barriers, and fostering an environment where women in this industry thrive.

Women in the manufacturing industry
Women who work at Steelway
Women who work at Steelway in managerial or leadership roles
Magdalen Airey
Process and Operational Improvement Manager

My role is Process and Operational Improvement Manager where I focus on improving the efficiencies and thus productivity of our manufacturing. This covers from direct process of manufacture to the supporting functions surrounding it.

I studied Mechanical Engineering at Loughborough University and entered the work force on a graduate programme which exposed me to multiple roles and responsibilities. Doing this I discovered my passion for Operations and the pursuit of Operation Excellence. Taking my first roles as manufacturing team leader and then production manager, I gained a lot of experience in managing manufacturing teams which I now utilise in my recent roles to improve the process’ across a manufacturing line.  

For me, working in an environment which male dominated has not been uncomfortable or challenging. I am sure there may have been some obstacles, but I have rarely found these to be directly linked to gender. For me, most have been down to approach, methods of communication and experience.

My advice to anyone entering into a new industry, is to be aware you will not know everything. You will likely be symbols of change or growth and have many great ideas to contribute, however this can be scary for some people and you need to work on bringing people with you on the journey. This requires time to get to know people, learn the current ways of work and why they are done that way. Most importantly let people know you hear them, regardless of your or their contribution to final decisions or change. You also cannot build Rome in a day, and an early small win will often do more for you in the first days then the big grand project which will take months to complete. That small win reinforces your capabilities not just for the team around you, but also for yourself.

Sonia Shaw
Group Finance Director

As Group Finance Director, I oversee the finances of all companies within the group. Combined I have over 25 years accountancy experience working in manufacturing environments, something I really enjoy due to the variety of the role.

I have always wanted to be an accountant from the age of 15, after attending a careers talk at school.  So, I followed the education path of A-levels, University and then accountancy college, achieving the ACMA qualification by the age of 24.

At the time of completing my studies I never thought about being a woman and how this would impact my chances of securing a finance position in a male dominated industry.  However, I have never been in a situation where I felt that my gender had worked against me in a manufacturing environment.

In terms of working in a male environment, I have never found this a problem.  I have always managed to gain the respect of all employees, from factory operatives to Directors, through my diligence and commitment to work.

My advice to anyone is to be confident and diligent. I believe hard work and commitment is key to anyone’s success.

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