Rebels with a Cause: Mavens of Manufacturing Are in the House

Group celebrates women in manufacturing “from shop floor to C-suite.”

The OG herself. #OGVoiceofWomeninMFG.

The OG herself. #OGVoiceofWomeninMFG.

You may have heard of Mavens in Manufacturing, but if not, you soon will. The group’s leader, Meaghan Ziemba, will have it no other way. Ziemba recently created an uproar at Automate 2023 when she and six other women in engineering dressed up as dinosaurs and roamed around the conference. Why? Why not let everyone in the house know there are women in engineering and manufacturing. And they are awesome.

Her podcast Mavens in Manufacturing is all about awesome women in engineering and manufacturing. It celebrates and connects women in engineering and manufacturing, helping them share their stories and challenges, so they can learn from each other—and inspire the next generation.

Ziemba often gets asked what kind of engineer she is. Ziemba is not an
engineer, nor does she work directly in manufacturing. But she has been covering
the industry for around 15 years. Ziemba is a technical writer from Beloit,
Wis., with a master’s degree in English- Professional and Technical writing from
the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Ziemba has been doing technical writing
and marketing for product design, 3D printing, machining, and manufacturing
companies since 2008. After working for multiple companies, she noticed the lack
of women covered in the sector and wanted to change that. During COVID she
reached out to some male podcast hosts and suggested some of her female friends
as guests for their shows. They always responded, “Yeah, we will reach out to
them,” but they never did. So, she decided to start Mavens to provide a platform
for women in manufacturing.

Just Do It!

In 2020, Ziemba decided to launch her own company Z-Ink Solutions offering technical writing services that she still runs. The mother of three, including a 20-year-old daughter and two young boys, who are four and five, wanted more flexible hours to spend time with her younger children—a luxury she didn’t have when her daughter was growing up.

Later that year, she also started Mavens in Manufacturing. She ran the idea of the podcast by a mentor of hers, who thought it was brilliant and encouraged her to go for it. She never expected to make a business out of it and said in the beginning, she basically “didn’t know what the hell she was doing.” “I wanted to have this blown out plan and he’s like, ‘No, no—just do it. And then, if people are interested, come back, and let me know.’

“I had never done any video work on my own where, you know, you start a YouTube channel and you go on there and you connect it to your audio podcast. Like, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. So, I made an announcement, and I had a ton of women reach out to me and say, yes, I want to be on the show. And I’m like, ‘Cool,’ while thinking to myself, ‘I am not prepared for this.’”

She went back to her mentor and told him she had booked shows through April, and he was like, “What, you booked them?”’ “So he goes, ‘Okay, here we go,’” she said, mimicking a male voice.

Within in a few days, he helped her get everything set up—the logo, branding, YouTube, website, etc., and they “just rolled with it.

“I wasn’t expecting it to turn into a business. It was something I wanted to connect with people in the industry and really inspire the next generation to think about engineering and manufacturing as career pathways.”

Not only is Ziemba passionate about what she does; she is also confident and claims the title that Mavens in Manufacturing “is the voice for the next generation of women in engineering and manufacturing.” Hence, her hashtag #OGVoiceofWomeninMFG. She continued, “I’m very confident in it. It’s just a community that, you know, celebrates women driving global change through their contributions.”

Ziemba’s logo and branding are inspired by Rosie the Riveter, the American icon who represents the women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II—the woman with the bandana on her head and her muscle flexed. You can imagine her saying, “We can do it.” Rosie has been a symbol of women in the manufacturing workforce since the 1940s.

Ziemba’s podcasts have featured some of the original Rosies, including Dolly Marshall, who, while she was in high school, worked as a plane spotter during World War II. She graduated in 1947 as the first girl to do tech with 2 years of community college in industrial design, and also studied math and biology.

Ziemba’s very first episode titled “Project-Based Learning and Importance of Job Shadows” aired December 2020 and featured Bethany Meade, Community Outreach Manager of CEANCI.

Ziemba has hosted more than 130 episodes to date on topics including why mentorship matters, increasing innovation with diverse work environments, reaching your full leadership potential, and bridging sales and marketing.

Here are just a few notable shows:

  • Yvonne Fasol from the American Rosie the Riveter Association, who discussed the importance of the organization and what it does to promote manufacturing across the United States.
  • Jennifer Winright from PanelBoy Controls, who discussed her journey as a self-taught manufacturer.
  • Sammy Stejskal, a process engineer for Aerobotix, who discussed her journey, what she loves about the automation industry, and how companies can recruit more women into the technology sector.
  • Liz Sanchez Rasking, “Engineering Unicorn” and Strategic Business Manager for Phoenix Mecano N. America, who originally wanted to be a zoologist, discussed why she studied engineering.
  • Nicole Calhoun, STEM advocate and Owner/CEO of SC Calhoun Consulting, who helps professionals to fulfill their leadership development and professional growth goals and helps companies train, equip and coach women and minorities in technology for leadership, discussed reaching your full leadership potential.
  • Angie Simon, Cofounder and President of Heavy Metal Summer Experience (HMSE), a summer camp for high school youth to learn about trades and gain hands-on experience in a sheet metal and piping shop and fabricate projects, who discussed her background in engineering and construction.

Breaking the Stereotype

One of the things Ziemba wants to change is the idea of imposter syndrome, “where you’re in a situation where you feel like you’re not good enough or like you don’t have the skillset to be where you are today.

Ziemba is all about changing stereotypes like imposter syndrome and the stigma attached to a community college education. She was surprised that her daughter and her friends were choosing four-year degrees at universities. No one mentioned the possibility of engineering and manufacturing. They “sort of stuck their noses up at it.”

We Can Do It!

Changing mindsets and closing the skills gap is a group effort. Ziemba said it’s the only way to address the workforce and skills gap in the industry and invites women from all organizations to share their stories on her podcast or partake in a mentorship. She often faces “Mavens of Manufacturing is a competitor” and she has to explain that she is not competing with anyone.

“Right now, we have this workforce shortage and really the only way to close it is if we work together and share all these stories because it’s the stories that are really going to get the kids interested in what’s happening in this industry,” she said. “So yeah, I’m just trying to educate younger generations. I’m trying to empower women to embrace their unique attributes and be the change that moves the sector forward. I’m just trying to highlight, you know, women doing some crazy and wild things because there’s a lot of amazing women in the sector, a lot of them….”

Just like Rosie the Riveter, “We can do it!”

Just like Rosie the Riveter, “We can do it!”

Another of Ziemba’s goals is to bring awareness to U.S. manufacturing and help increase its competitive edge from the rest of the world. Ziemba dedicates herself to expanding her global reach because what she is doing is all about attracting more women to this industry and inspiring the next generation everywhere. She currently has listeners in the U.S., UK and India and has had guests from Australia and plans to have guests from Ireland as well.

40 and Fabulous

Like the women featured on her podcast, Ziemba is an inspiration! She’s 40 years old and when she’s not writing or hosting a podcast, you may find her on the main stage or on a panel at a tech conference. Be on the lookout! When I saw her on a 3DEXPERIENCE World panel in 2023, I just had to get her story. 

Just a girl with edge, and a voice—who’s “had it up to here.” Cue, the No Doubt song “Just a Girl.”

Just a girl with edge, and a voice—who’s “had it up to here.”
(Cue “Just a Girl” by No Doubt).

The story starts in high school, where Ziemba got along with everyone even
though she was a bit of an outcast who wasn’t part of any cliques. It was there
that she discovered she was really good in English and liked reading books and
doing creative writing but the jobs available didn’t sound very interesting. Her
parents encouraged her to go to college, where she found technical writing to be
her niche.

“I actually had a really great professor and he made it really fun and just all of the books and theories on writing in general fascinated me.” His name was Dave Clark.

Though Ziemba originally wanted to travel the world and do something active (like bartending), you could say she gets to live vicariously through all these women she’s interviewing worldwide. And Ziemba is quite happy with the path she’s chosen. “I’m getting paid to do two things I absolutely love—and I’m obsessed with it,” she said.

A Few Fun Facts About Meaghan Ziemba

“I do love my coffee and I like whiskey.”

“I do CrossFit and I love to run long distances.” 

“When I am not working, I like to write in my journal, hang out with my kids, and spend time outside when it’s not cold.”

“All of the Mavens that I’ve interviewed have inspired me and continue to. My number one inspiration is my daughter, Annabelle. She is such a great human being, and I am so proud of her.”

You can catch Ziemba’s live podcasts or a prerecorded episode generally on Fridays at 11:30 a.m. CST, as well as view past recordings on demand.

To learn more, visit