Women in the manufacturing industry inspire others

Recent graduate of Step up for Women Fran barker now works at Special Metals in Huntington. (WCHS/WVAH)

Fran Barker graduated from the Step up for Women pre-apprenticeship program just a few months ago. Now, she has a job at Special Metals Corporation in Huntington.

"If you tell me I can't do something I will prove you wrong," Barker said.

Barker explained there are difficulties when stepping into a field that is mostly male dominated. Despite being doubted by others she told Eyewitness News the program helps give women in this area the confidence they need to do the hard labor manufacturing jobs that are widely available.

"You have to take it one step at a time,"Barker said. "I just try to have the mindset of 'how am I going to prove them wrong today? What challenges do I have?' You have to go into this with your head held high."

Less than two weeks after graduating she landed the job at Special Metals. Tuesday she went back to the Robert C. Byrd Institute to inspire other women who are curious about the manufacturing field.

Program Coordinator Melinda Perron said the jobs are available, many people just need the training to step into the workforce.

"We need to let these women know these jobs are open to them," Perron said. "We also want to let the employers know that women want to do this work, and they will work just as hard in an industrial environment."

Sam Robinson is another successful graduate of the Step up for Women program. She tells Eyewitness News she would not have the confidence she has today if it weren't for the coaching she received from her mentors.

"If you tell me I can't do something I will work a thousand times harder to show you I can," Robinson said. "I would have never imagined myself here. I am beyond ecstatic where I am."

Now the graduates are inspiring other women to step into the manufacturing field. For more information on how to apply for the program visit

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off