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International Women’s Day – Betty Baker

International Women’s Day 2022

International Women’s Day (IWD), celebrated annually on 8th March, is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women all around the world. International women’s day has been celebrated for well over a century, with the first one starting in 1911.

This day is one of the most important days of the year to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about women’s equality, and share stories of inspiring women.

Join us in celebrating just some of the inspirational women in our community and the empowering work they do for women everywhere.

Betty Baker

Domestic Casegoods Product Engineer, Ashley Furniture

During her time in college, Betty was the only female mechanical engineer to graduate from her class. She was also the first female product engineer hired at Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc., over 35 years ago. Headquartered in Arcadia, Wisconsin, the company manufactures and distributes home furniture products worldwide.

Betty lives in Wisconsin where she’s the La Crosse, Eau Claire, Winona Area (LEWA) User Group Leader. The LEWA group was founded in 2002 where originally Betty was the secretary, then in 2004, she took over the leadership of the group and still runs it today.

She holds her Certified SOLIDWORKS Professional (CSWP), was awarded her SOLIDWORKS Champion certification in 2020 and was also named the DriveWorks SWUGN Leader of the Year 2020. Betty is also a FIRST Robotics coach for Trempealeau County Robotics, encouraging girls and boys to get involved with engineering from a young age.

”It is ok to take a chance and step out of your comfort zone. Some of my best experiences in my career were because I said YES to new experiences.”

Where did your initial interest in STEM come from?

”I have always wanted to help other girls/women because I did not have any women role models in engineering when I was going to school or starting my career.”

What is your current role/involvement in STEM?

”I do a lot of training at my job at Ashley Furniture within my department. I am involved with sharing my story at career days and various STEM activities/summer STEM camps. I am a FIRST Robotics coach for Trempealeau County Robotics, #7021. We mentor high school students, boys and girls, in all types of areas of manufacturing from Accounting, Marketing, Engineering (SOLIDWORKS), Programming and Fabrication. I have taught a week-long SOLIDWORKS class to other robotics teams, students and mentors. I also teach SOLIDWORKS every year at a robotics training day.”

”I was the 2021 STEP (Science Technology, Engineering and Production) Ahead Award for my work in Manufacturing.  I sit on two different advisory committees at local technical colleges for the Mechanical Design programs in Wisconsin and Minnesota.”

“I am always helping and training others with my work in the SOLIDWORKS Communities. I am a SOLIDWORKS User Group Leader along with being the Midwest US SOLIDWORKS User Group Network representative. I send out weekly SOLIDWORKS tips to hundreds of SOLIDWORKS users. I have been an adjunct instructor teaching SOLIDWORKS for two summers at my local community college.”

Tell us a bit about your background and how you ended up in this role

”I started working at Ashley Furniture right out of high school, working in the factory in manufacturing. I later went back to school to receive my Associate degree in Mechanical Design. After that I moved in to the engineering dept. at Ashley Furniture. In July I will have been with Ashley Furniture for 38 years. We have used SOLIDWORKS at Ashley Furniture for 20+ years and that is how I got my involvement in the SOLIDWORKS community.”

What is your favourite thing about working in STEM? 

”I enjoy working with students to show them the different possibilities that there are for them in the world of STEM and manufacturing. I like sharing my knowledge of SOLIDWORKS with my peers and not just young students. Not only am I helping students when I am involved with STEM but I have to continually grown and learn at the same time.”

What advice would you give to young women interested in pursuing a career in STEM?

”If you are interested in a career in a STEM-related field you should do an internship, job shadow, or talk with people in that field to explore and find out all that you can about that field. Join a Robotics team and become familiar with the different fields. But most importantly, say YES to the many different opportunities that will arise in your career.  It is ok to take a chance and step out of your comfort zone. Some of my best experiences in my career were because I said YES to new experiences.”

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?

”You are never too old to learn and to accept challenges.”

”Your career path is not a straight line, where you start your career path is probably not where it is going to end.”

Who or what inspires you?

”Helping people and being a mentor is inspiring to me. Knowing that I am helping someone in a small way or helping them find their career path is very fulfilling. I love seeing the students that we mentor in robotics pay it forward and are now mentoring younger students themselves.”

”The people and the company that I work for at Ashley Furniture are very inspiring to me. Where Ashley Furniture started and what they have grown in to is simply amazing. They are always encouraging us to be better, give us the tools to improve our own personal development, and they help us along our career path within the company to achieve our own goals. I am very fortunate to be a part of this company for over 37 years to see the changes and growth that has taken place over the years and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

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Join us as we continue celebrating international women in our community.