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Female Workers on the Production Floor at Roadtrek

Female Workers at RoadtrekThings 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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt 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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlthough 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.

 


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5 comments

  1. James Morrison Buttram

    I share your pleasure in the changing role of women in the workforce.
    From chattel to inferior to equal opportunity, they have shown us just how much ability has been wasted. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Pat

    I enjoy your articles and always look forward to reading them – thanks! This one felt a bit weird to me though. On the one hand, yep, it’s great that gender is no longer the black-and-white determining factor in what jobs men/women can or can’t be hired for, and I’m glad you are celebrating that. On the other hand…. you managed to do it while inserting stereotypes about what men and women are good at. Yes, women are typically smaller, and I won’t argue that as a whole they are not exactly the same as men, but it still felt kind of unnecessary to me to call out what “women are good at” in this article. I had a (male) co-worker who I swear had no skeleton – that guy could just about crawl into 4″ ducts and then *do things* while in there. I’m female, and couldn’t possibly.

    Again, not to say there are not differences and that they shouldn’t be mentioned, ever; but it just seemed to dilute the main point of the article, which (to me) was that now people don’t have to be as gender categorized at their jobs; the jobs at Roadtrek were traditionally “male” jobs but now many are being done by women; and those women are doing a great job building cool Roadtreks!

    Reading roadtreking.com has made me wish I had a Roadtrek! I have SOB, but it’s small so I’m still in the same general category, but not a Roadtrek (sigh).

    Pat

    PS: As long as I’m at it, it’s “Female Workers on the Production Floor.” Just like you wouldn’t say “Men Workers on the Production Floor”…. female/male is the correct word for this use (for some reason women is often misused in this way, but men almost never is… not sure why?)

    Reply
    • Campskunk
      Author

      i agree that it should be female workers, not women workers – let me see if i can fix it without screwing up the link (title is part of the URL)

      also agree with your point about overgeneralizing- there are nimble men and klutzy women out there, should have clarified that i’m talking about differences in distributions, not individuals. some of my training is in performance on standardized tests, and i’m often guilty of that since it’s just assumed in our racket. it should be “women as a population distribution” and “men as a population distribution”, which we shorten to “women” and “men”, since we talk too much anyway (“we” = population of psychometricians ;-) )

      Reply
    • Myra A. Mason

      Pat — I was also a little put off with the gender generalizations. Too often — still — many employers/businesses justify their hiring on stereotypes — male/female, ethnicity, and so on and on. Any “study” that supports stereotypes only serves to engender more justifications. That being said, I agree there may be some differences. But hopefully employers will consider individual abilities and qualifications over all else. Appreciate your well-written response, Pat, as well as Campskunk’s article and his reply.

      Reply

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