Wolverine Wants To Get 'Woman-Made' Into The Dictionary

Workwear company Wolverine is picking a fight with dictionaries everywhere: While ‘man-made’ is readily defined, 'woman-made’ is nowhere to be seen.

A campaign video highlights engineering and maker feats few people know about, including Emily Warren Roebling, a chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, and Anna Connelly, inventor of the fire escape. The campaign also urges people to sign a petition at Change.org, asking dictionary publishers to include "woman-made" as a synonym for “man-made.”

The effort is launching in time to celebrate International Women’s Day and highlights the vast gender gap in skilled trades. It is also the launch of Wolverine’s new women’s platform aiming to double sales of women’s products in the next two years, says Lauren King, Wolverine’s director of brand marketing.



“Today, only 10% of those in skilled trades are women,” she says. “And there’s a 6.5 million person job deficit. As we’re asking ourselves how we can encourage more women and girls to enter these trades, we realize that until they reach their mid-40s, women’s confidence is much lower than men’s. We thought celebrating women’s accomplishments could help inspire them.”

Prose on Pixels produced the video. The campaign also includes tie-ins with Mika and Brian Kleinschmidt, HGTV stars and real-estate developers, who are also working to build awareness of women working in the trades.

That connection works since home renovation shows are one of the few places women can often be seen wielding sledgehammers, power drills or circular saws (which, by the way, were invented by a woman.)

“Mika paved the way for herself with her can-do, positive attitude, building her own business,” King says. “And we wanted to include Brian as a spokesperson, too.

Women don't need to always tell each other how great we are -- we wanted this campaign to speak to men equally.”

The effort also includes a $25,000 donation to Girls Garage, a design and construction school empowering girls and gender-expansive youths aged 9 to 18. Wolverine is also distributing coloring books to Girl Scout troops and elementary schools.

The Rockford, Michigan-based company hopes the effort can reverse a deep sales slump. Last week, it posted a 21% nosedive in sales for the fourth quarter, with revenues falling to $526.7 million. While it saw steep drops in all brands, Wolverine sank the furthest, falling 28% for the quarter.

King says the company is working to intensify its connection to its customers, who view “boots as the ultimate tool in their toolbox. The right boots help them perform at their best.”

She says the brand’s personality reflects a “blue-collar mindset and the value of a day's hard work.”

About 10% of Wolverine customers are women, reflecting the trade demographics. “We're looking to double our women’s offerings and sales to women, and this is our biggest marketing program for the first half of the year.”

This year alone, the company has boosted the number of items made for women by 60%.

The goal, of course, is to get “woman-made” its place in dictionaries. But it is also to get Wolverine’s women’s products into more retailers, she says: “We want women to have more chances to meet these boots on the shelf.”

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