This article originates from Women In 3D Printing and is part of our effort to support the use of 3D printing technology by women. The article is re-published with permission.
Bailey Geyer is the FDM supervisor at Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, a division of Stratasys. She kindly agreed to share her vision of the 3D printing world and her experience as a women in a male-dominated industry.
Nora Toure: Bailey, could you let us know about your background and what brought you into 3D printing in the first place?
Bailey Geyer: I worked as a costumed character at a theme park for about 5 years and then decided that I needed a “real” job. There was an administrative position open at the company that my dad worked for (Solid Concepts), so I applied and was hired. I soon realized that admin was the furthest thing from what I enjoyed doing and I wanted to be the person making the parts. I applied for a programming position but was rejected. I was undeterred and worked harder to show that I’d be a good fit in the programming department. About a year later, another position opened up and I applied again. Fortunately, the supervisor gave me a chance (after I passed his math test). I became his right hand and eventually got promoted to FDM Supervisor, which is my current position. Math and science were strong subjects for me in school, so the technical nature of 3D printing fits right in my comfort zone.
Nora Toure: What was your first experience with 3D Printing?
Bailey Geyer: In the early days of Solid Concepts, my dad had to work a lot of nights and weekends. He used to bring my brothers and me in to watch the SLA machines draw. As an 8 year old, it was really fascinating watching the lasers!
Nora Toure: As mentioned above, you are the FDM Supervisor at Stratasys Direct Manufacturing. Could you explain furthermore what your role in the company is?
Bailey Geyer: My current role is to supervise all of the Programmers and Operators of the SL, Polyjet and FDM departments. I also schedule the orders that come in for said departments. We work closely with the Project Engineers and help them to choose the right process for their customer’s projects.
Nora Toure: Do you have any (fun or not) story about your job to share with us?
Bailey Geyer: At the end of a Sunday night shift, I was watching the last layer of a SL machine draw. Suddenly, the resin started to swish side to side. I was racking my brain trying to figure out what could be causing it. I had never seen it do that before so I wasn’t sure how to fix it. Then I looked up at the lights in the room and they were also swaying back and forth. I realized that we were having an earthquake!
Nora Toure: As a woman working in a manufacturing world, what was/ is your biggest challenge?
Bailey Geyer: I think that the biggest challenge is people not taking you seriously. No one batted an eye when I was an admin because it’s a stereotypical woman position, but as a programmer, I would have to really prove that I truly knew what I was talking about. At least 3 different men came and sat on my desk to try to get what they wanted. A complete lack of respect! I even had a misogynist coworker tell me that my place is at home, and insisted that I wasn’t being a good wife and mother. These are some extreme things that I have personally experienced, but I see a little of it with my female employees, too. There is a tendency for engineers to challenge my female employees more than my male employees, even if they give the same information. Now that I am a supervisor, it does not happen to me. I suppose my title is enough proof now, so I don’t need to validate myself to anyone anymore.
Nora Toure: What makes the 3D printing industry particularly interesting for you?
Bailey Geyer: I love that it’s instant gratification. You can upload a file this morning and we can have the part ready to ship to you this afternoon!
Nora Toure: What do you think of the 3D printing industry today? And how would you like to see it evolve?
Bailey Geyer: There are so many possibilities now. There are a lot more people involved. I am especially interested in bio-printing. As we continue making safety improvements through semi- and fully-autonomous vehicles, bettering the food that we consume, finding cures for diseases, people will not be dying as quickly. As a result, there aren’t as many organs out there for the taking, which makes 3D printed human organs very appealing.
Nora Toure: In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing?
Bailey Geyer: Something that my dad participated in was Take Your Daughter to Work Day (which is now Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day). It really helped me to see that women were all over the company and not just in the clerical positions. The women that I work with come from diverse backgrounds and we couldn’t be more different from each other. Whether you’re a creator or just like helping people to actualize their vision, then 3D printing would be great for you.
Feel free to post some comments below to get in touch with Bailey. I also invite you to check Stratasys printers offer if you are not yet familiar with those.