Things have changed since I worked in the automotive business. Back in the dark ages, all the floor workers were men, and women were up in the office. A major difference between then and now that I have noticed in my visits to the Roadtrek factory is how many women hold production floor jobs – important and skilled jobs. It takes a diverse set of talents to produce a world class motorhome, and Roadtrek draws from a wide variety of employees in order to have all these skills available to achieve the level of quality their product requires.
Back in the cutting and stripping departments where the chassis first comes in the workforce is male, but further along in the process, you start to notice women on the job. In the cabinet building department, and particularly in Department 10, which is the final installation and finishing section of the manufacturing process, more and more women are filling the positions.
It boils down to proven gender differences in skill sets. Averaging within each group and comparing the two, men are better at tasks involving strength and gross motor skills; women are better at fine motor skills and exacting attention to detail. In the later stages of the production process, as the task at hand changes from cutting and shaping metal to installing and connecting components and finishing the interiors, women’s strengths become more important. For some tasks, the best man for the job is a woman.
For instance, I installed my own GPS navigation system in my Roadtrek, but it was a tedious and frustrating project for me. Installing a GPS involves connecting a dizzying variety of wires in a precise manner, plus disassembly and reassembly of the dashboard fascia. Me and my big fat fingers weren’t exactly the best choice for the job, but I got it done in ten hours or so, breaking a few of those delicate little plastic clips in the process, and having to go back in and fix a few things I messed up. Watching the female workers at Roadtrek do this job in an hour or so without making any of the mistakes I did is downright depressing. They’re running rings around me.
Although finishing touches are important, the female production workers at Roadtrek aren’t just running around with feather dusters, making the Roadtreks pretty. In addition to performing the tasks necessary to produce the fit and finish Roadtrek customers expect, they’re also operating band saws, pulling wire, testing and troubleshooting complex electrical and mechanical systems, and are fully involved in the quality control process here at Roadtrek. They know how the various systems in the Roadtreks work, what’s wrong when they don’t, and how to fix it. It’s a refreshing change from the days of my youth, and it’s also encouraging to see that these days the best person for each job is being given a chance to do it.