Pam McDonough, president of the Alliance for Illinois Manufacturing and chief executive of NORBIC, a Chicago-based nonprofit economic development organization, said once women make it to plant manager, they are in a better position to move into the top ranks.

’If you’ve toughed it out beyond a certain level, you have as much or possibly a better chance than a man (for promotion),’ said Ariane Hegewisch , study director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. But she added that getting women interested in manufacturing has proven difficult.

Few women enroll in the kinds of automotive and mechanical engineering programs that spawn leaders like Allman and Georger, Hegewisch said. ‘In general, getting women into the pipeline is not that easy.’’’