The first International Women’s Day was held in 1909, and since then, it has been an annual celebration of women’s rights, gender-equality, and social progress. The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is #BalanceforBetter, encouraging everyone to think about how they can contribute to a more gender-balanced world. This starts in the workplace, and it starts with people like Amanda Wood.
We asked Amanda to tell us a little about herself and her experience as a woman in the male-dominated manufacturing industry, and she was kind enough to indulge us. Read on to learn more about Amanda!
1) Where are you from and what is your background?
I was born in Valparaiso, Indiana, but never lived there. My Dad was working a job up there and my Mom went with him, not expecting to greet me so soon. When the time in the hospital was over, we were back in Birmingham. I grew up in Alabaster, Alabama and graduated high school from Thompson. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.
2) What has your career path been like?
I worked in banking for about 5 years and thought it was an industry I wanted to continue in. I had a customer offer me a job working as a manufacturing rep, and dabbled in that for about two years. I really didn’t feel like I was being challenged enough and felt like I could do more. My mother in-law works in the steel business and I started talking to her about wanting to do more with my career. She talked passionately about her job and what she did and I thought maybe it was something I could be good at. She sent my resume out to several people around Birmingham, and I was lucky enough to end up interviewing with O’Neal Steel. I started working with them in Supply Chain, 5 years ago this May, and transitioned into a Supply Chain Specialist position with O’Neal Manufacturing in March of 2017. I just recently took a position as the Materials Manager and moved to Greensboro, NC to work at the plant. I am excited about being at the shop and seeing our machines at work. I enjoy being able to walk out in the shop every day and know that I am a part of something big. I love seeing what we are making for our customers.
My career in steel has just begun and I’m looking forward to the future and seeing where it takes me.
3) What’s it like working in this kind of industry as a woman?
It’s funny, I tend not to give it much thought. People ask me all the time if it’s hard being a woman in a man’s business. I guess not! Heck, I’ve been at work functions and outings and have had people stop me to ask what the event is or what company we are with. I’ve gotten chuckles, and comments like “I didn’t know women were in the steel business”.
I guess when I really stop and think about it, I’m pretty lucky. I’m lucky to have been raised by such great parents that made sure to set examples about great work ethic. Work hard, and don’t worry about anything else. Sure, sometimes I think that certain people will judge me or not think I can do as well or be as successful as a man could in the same role. People think ‘steel’ and assume a man would fit the part. Those things challenge me more and make me want to be a successful businesswoman in the steel industry. I want people to see and hear about what I do, and think, ‘Look at her, killing it. Look at her doing what she loves and being a role model for other women in metal.” Most importantly, I want people to look at me and what I do and see how happy I am and how much I love what I do.
I’m comfortable being a woman in the steel industry because I work for a company that doesn’t treat me any differently because of it. That’s the most important thing. I have seen and heard other women talk about the struggles they face with their company because of their gender. It’s a real thing, and it’s unfortunate. The best thing we can do is work hard and be good at the job. Prove that we deserve what we are fighting for because we are the best fit.
4) What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I spend a lot of time with my family. My husband and I have a travel trailer and we enjoy tailgating at football games, NASCAR races, and taking it camping. We have two precious dogs that we treat like children and we love being outside with them. I enjoy cooking and learning new skills in the kitchen. I also like to volunteer and am passionate about being able to help others when I can.
5) Anything else you’d like to include?
Not long after starting with O’Neal, with their support, I joined the Association of Women in the Metal Industries. There was an opening for the Vice President position with the Birmingham Chapter, and I was happy to take the position, hoping it would help me network with other women and men in the industry and learn about the business. I finished my term as VP, moved into the President position, and just finished my two year term this past December. It’s great to be a part of the organization and not only have I been able to network with people in the industry, but it’s helped me gain confidence in the workplace, speak in front of large groups, and work with other members to set up events and fundraisers. I have been able to attend conferences, listen to top executive speakers, and be a face for the O’Neal company. My grandfather worked in the steel business, my Dad still works in the industry, and my step dad sells steel parts to his customers. My husband is in steel, and his dad, and his step-mother. I guess you could say it runs in the family. I get to wake up every day and go to a job I love.