Movers and Shakers: Women in Material Handling

Female materials handling employee with a digital tablet. Woman warehouse worker with people in background.

It has been a long time coming, but we are finally seeing an increase in the number of women involved in material handling jobs. Trade shows such as MODEX and ProMat have typically shown men, but that is finally starting to change. In the workplace, too, we are seeing more female leaders in roles within the material handling area of the supply chain. 

How Women Are Impacting the Industry

Some of the women who have had an impact on the advancement of women within the material handling field include the following:

Carol Miller was recently appointed to the position of CMO of the Material Handling Industry Association (MHI). She has been a part of the association for about 25 years and has had an essential role in the MODEX and ProMat tradeshows while also assuming the role of a voice for women within the supply chain. 

Miller is a modest woman who tells reporters with Modern Materials Handling her new role is nothing more than an extension of what she has previously been doing at MHI but with more focus on the development of an overall transformation of the digital marketing and market strategy. The goal she has in mind is achieving better communication with both stakeholders and members and taking advantage of the substantial growth and changes occurring within the industry. 

Marina Mayer is the editor of two industry-related publications: Food Logistics and Supply & Demand Chain Executive. She has used webinars to reach out and highlight women’s roles within the industry, especially in the early part of COVID-19. 

She has 19 years experience as a B2B journalist and over 13 years within the food and beverage industry — 10 of those years were within the supply chain and logistics areas. She uses a variety of platforms to represent women and provide examples of those who are leaders within the supply chain. She provides information on opportunities for women within the material handling industry that were previously unavailable to them. 

Maggie Oltarzewski from BALYO is in the process of completing her master’s degreee. She has an instrumental role as a solutions engineer at BALYO, and she offers essential counsel to women conerning the future of material handling, automation, and robotics with the supply chain industry.

Pravina Raghavan was appointed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology to the position of director of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program. The purpose of these programs is to provide assistance to small- and medium-sized manufacturers in the United States in the following areas: development of new customers and products; the expansion and diversification of markets; adoption of new technology; and improvement of supply chains. Raghavan brought decades of experience in the advisment of businesses when she joined NIST.

Black female materials handling professional and white female warehouse employee, with male employee in background

Material Handling Leaders Need to Provide Support

There are many ways industry leaders can support women in the materials handling industry. They can begin by learning to accept their need to have a balance between work and life. If there is a need for childcare, eldercare, or other types of responsibilities at home, the talent and effort they bring to the table are worth any special accommodations you must make.

The idea of remote workers has always been a possibility for some employees, but the COVID pandemic forced many women to resort to work-from-home positions or leave the workforce entirely when daycares closed and employers closed their doors to in-person employment. It’s important for industry leaders to take the time to ask women how they can best help them provide high quality work. If hybrid positions are the answer, you should be willing to  allow your employees to work from home when it’s possible.