Women in Stamping: Navigating the Engineering World


Is the engineering world an inclusive working environment offering equal opportunity? Is the industry doing enough to encourage women to pursue both hands-on engineering and design roles — and what about leadership positions? Historically, stamping has been perceived as a “man’s world.” In this article, we bring a fresh perspective to our FormingWorld.com community, featuring insights from Lidia Casas at Neklar. This is part one of our Women in Stamping series.

See Part 1 | See Part 2 | See Part 3 | See Part 4

Lidia Casas on Women in Stamping

Lidia Casas of Neklar Representing Women in Stamping

As a woman in engineering, my journey has been marked by both challenges and triumphs. These experiences have shaped not only my career but also my perspective on the evolving landscape for women in a traditionally male-dominated field.

From navigating workshops and confronting stereotypes to working at progressive companies like Neklar, my story reflects both the strides made and the hurdles that, in some respects, still persist.

Early challenges

From the outset of my career at 23, I recognized that being a woman in engineering came with a unique set of obstacles. Despite encountering numerous opportunities within the field, I found that my voice was occasionally overshadowed in workshops. Beyond these professional challenges, there was an unspoken dress code in those early days, creating a sense of needing to navigate perceptions to be taken seriously.

However, having a female manager was pivotal in bolstering my confidence during the formative years of my career. She provided invaluable guidance and inspiration, emphasizing the importance of representation and mentorship in fostering an inclusive environment.

As I progressed in my career, securing higher positions in the stamping industry proved to be an uphill battle, particularly when gatekept by older colleagues with more traditional mindsets. The need to continually prove my capabilities became a recurring theme. Nevertheless, despite the obstacles, I persevered, gradually breaking through the barriers that constrained me.

Progress amidst gender disparities…and work to be done

There’s no denying the considerable progress made in recent years in terms of leveling the playing field. The percentage of female scientists and engineers in Europe, for example, has increased from 32.4% in 2009 to 40.9% in 2019. Generational shifts over the past decade have contributed to diminishing gender disparities, which has been a major positive force.

However, there remains an implicit recognition that the engineering industry still has a long way to go in achieving true gender equality. Globally, women comprise only 28% of all engineering graduates. Moreover, research from the UK Royal Academy of Engineering indicates an 11% engineering gender pay gap, while in the USA, female mechanical engineers earn an average of 95% of their male counterparts’ salaries.

Encouraging future generations of female engineers

The challenges I faced were not just about overcoming gender norms but also about leading in an industry where women are still a minority. Nonetheless, I firmly believe that the hurdles faced in engineering are not unique to the field and can be found elsewhere.

It is this belief that drives my encouragement for women to pursue technical careers. For young women starting out in engineering, assertiveness and self-awareness are essential for navigating the professional landscape. In today’s environment, where managers are increasingly focused on qualifications rather than gender, confidence in one’s abilities is paramount.

I advise aspiring female engineers to focus on building a robust CV and cultivating a strong sense of self, irrespective of gender-related stereotypes. While encountering these stereotypes is inevitable, don’t let them define you. Instead, demonstrate your capabilities through your work and let your achievements speak for themselves.

Just as I did, seek out a mentor—whether male or female! A strong mentor will provide guidance, support, and help you overcome challenges while offering valuable perspectives.

Remember, engineering is a dynamic field, so staying abreast of emerging technologies and trends will keep you ahead in your profession.     

Why engineering is a smart choice for smart women

The appeal of the engineering industry lies in promising career prospects, a choice I made even during periods of worker shortages and high demand. The work is intellectually stimulating, offering women ample opportunities to showcase their innovation skills and contribute to technological advancements.

Whether in metal stamping or other domains, career progression and growth opportunities are abundant, with avenues for ongoing training and educational advancement, paving the way to leadership roles. Nowadays, engineering is evolving to provide flexible work environments and collaborative cultures that value diverse perspectives.

Better still, hiring decisions are no longer exclusively gender-based, which is a significant step forward. As long as women recognize these positives, there’s no limit to what they can achieve.

Adapting to the post-pandemic era

COVID-19 accelerated mindset shifts within the engineering industry. Balancing work and family has gained prominence, with remote work becoming integral. As a mother, working from home a few days a week has been essential for me to maximize time with my daughter, altering my previously more career-centric approach.

Overall, there’s been a societal shift where family considerations now take precedence. Balancing career with parenthood has become the primary focus for many employees. This is why companies like Neklar, which prioritize employee well-being and sustainability, are ahead of their time in gender equality.

Neklar: metal stamping with a progressive approach

To me, Neklar has always been a trailblazer in gender equality—gender is never a factor in the company’s promotions or recruitment decisions.

Embedded with sustainability values, Neklar is dedicated to upholding these principles by actively engaging in environmental issues and collaborating with other like-minded companies.

The shift towards a more inclusive workplace, exemplified by Neklar’s diverse leadership team where women hold prominent positions, reflects a broader trend in the engineering landscape. The company recognizes the invaluable contributions of women, harnessing their unique perspectives to drive innovation and success.

Looking Ahead: Embracing Change and Driving Progress

As I mentioned, engineering is a dynamic field that ignites the need to diversify. Looking ahead, my focus in engineering has shifted towards vehicle electrification, recognizing it as our short to medium term future.

However, engineering offers a multitude of opportunities beyond conventional roles. Areas like quality assurance, procurement, and R&D will consistently demand skilled engineering professionals, ensuring an ongoing need for diverse talents eager to excel.

See part two of our Women in Stamping series.