Women in leading roles are still underrepresented in the industry all over the world. This applies especially to traditional branches, where male leadership has been the rule for decades or even centuries. Despite some positive exceptions, many women who aspire to climb the career ladder in these fields find themselves confronted with the famous “broken rung”. The concept refers to additional barriers women need to overcome on their way to the top, compared to their male peers.
Industry 4.0 is good news in this context. While many companies struggle with implementing the fundamental chances this new paradigm of production imposes, the deck in the competition for strategic positions is reshuffled and many talented women in engineering see their chances to drive the change rise.
To support these talents with state-of-the-art knowledge on Industry 4.0, VDI-Brazil launched the “Industry4Her Program” in May 2020. The initiative aims to train 24 women with an academical background in any field of engineering and with different levels of experience.
After receiving more than 450 applications during the first call, the jury, consisting of 5 members of the board of VDI-Brasil, had a very hard time selecting 24 participants. That impressive amount of feedback made the need for additional calls in the future is more than clear.
The main selection criteria applied in the program is the motivation and determination of the participants to make a change for women in Industry 4.0. Therefore, it is possible to select a very diverse team, which adds even more value to the exchange of experience and networking.
Throughout the program, the participants have the chance to participate in in-depth discussions with experts from several member companies of VDI-Brasil and gain hands on knowledge concerning challenges and solution for Industry 4.0 in different fields.
Given the virtual format of the IFAC 2020, the participants of the program will also be able to join the conference and get a in-depth impression on the latest trends in automation and control all around the world. As an additional challenge, the participants are applying design thinking methods to develop innovative solutions to spread the knowledge among the community of women in engineering all over Brasil in the future.
Besides the substantial technical input and challenges, the program also includes a series of webinars called “Industry4Her Webinars” with inspiring women who have reached the top of outstanding companies, interviewed twice a month by the Vice-President of VDI-Brasil, Renate Fuchs, the principal initiator of the program.
According to Renate Fuchs the feedback of the program so far has been very positive. “For many participants, the program is the first opportunity to discuss Industry 4.0 in a virtual space with only women. That creates a very productive atmosphere to learn and inspires them to aim for higher goals in their careers and strengthen their bound to other women in engineering. I am sure that we will see many of the 24 participants leading roles in the industry in the future.”