Tuttle Graduate Finds Success in Male-Dominant Career Field
Harley White, a 2013 graduate of Tuttle High School and Canadian Valley Technology Center, has found success working as a machinist at Baity Screw Machine Products. She is one of the 24 percent of women who are working in the manufacturing labor force.
CHICKASHA, OK (Feb. 14, 2014) – Harley White is not your typical 19-year-old young woman. White begins each day waking long before the sun comes up and making her way into Chickasha from Tuttle, about a 20 minute commute. She begins work each morning at 5 a.m., alongside a handful of men, operating a machine most women her age have never even seen.
As a Computer Numerical Control machine operator at Baity Screw Machine, Harley has 40 hours of work completed each week by 1 p.m. on Friday.
“I like working,” she says. “It’s nice to get paid for the work I’m doing.”
Baity Screw Machine Products employs around 40 machinists and provides machining services to the automotive, oil and gas, refrigeration, and agriculture industries at a competitive cost. White is currently making parts for use in the oilfield. She produces around 500-600 each shift she works.
In the three months since she began working at Baity’s White has received two raises.
“I really enjoy my job. I want to continue to work hard and get better at my trade. I definitely want to continue working in this industry.”
Women in manufacturing are a growing trend, especially with initiatives across school districts to increase STEM areas – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The demand for machinists is growing, and there are more and more females working in manufacturing and related careers.
According to the Manufacturing Institute, manufacturing faces a serious skills gap. Part of this gap is the underrepresentation of women in the industry. While women make up approximately 50 percent of the labor force, that number is only about 24 percent in the manufacturing labor force.
Canadian Valley Technology Center recognizes that women need support in transitioning from school into non-traditional career fields such as machining. GirlTech is an organization that helps girls like White shift seamlessly into a workplace where women are the minority.
As a student at CV Tech, White took advantage of the opportunity to gain support and critical skills through the GirlTech program. She built relationships with several women who work as machinists. In fact, White now works side by side with two of her GirlTech mentors.
“Connie (Irving) and Melinda (Thompson) have been very supportive of me in my new job. I still consider them to be my mentors.”
Looking back, it was her time as a student at Canadian Valley that led White to her promising career as a machinist. White, a graduate of Tuttle High School, began attending CV Tech as a freshman. The first two years she attended tech, she was a student in the Service Careers program.
Instructor Chad Bailey recalls White’s enthusiasm for learning how to operate shop equipment and learn about different tools. Bailey had confidence in Harley’s ability to move on to a more challenging program. Not all of the students in his program reach that level.
“Harley is a very sharp girl and doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. She is a good worker with a great attitude,” Bailey said. “I knew she would excel in precision machining.”
Nick Guinn, precision machining instructor at CV Tech, was White’s instructor her junior and senior years.
“As a student, Harley always did a great job of holding her own in a shop that was full of guys. She always showed up on time, ready to work. I knew that she would make a great machinist once she was hired. I’m really proud of her.”
By Erica Miller
Communications and Marketing Coordinator
Canadian Valley Technology Center