Women becoming family business leaders in male-dominated industries

It’s International Women’s Day every day at Yuengling & “Son,” where Yuengling daughters are taking over

By April Hall

Women are increasingly breaking barriers to take leadership posts in their family business in industries long dominated by men.

For 188 years, D.G. Yuengling & Son was just that — a brewery run by generations of fathers and sons.

But in the sixth generation, that will change. Fifth-generation owner Richard “Dick” Yuengling has no sons. He does, however, have four daughters. They all work in the business and could someday own it.

“My dad was really at a crossroads with an influx of growth and struggling with demand,” recalls Jennifer Yuengling, 46. “He wanted reassurance that our generation was interested in coming into the business.”

Three of his four daughters went into the business as they completed their higher education; one joined after working elsewhere. Jennifer, the eldest, jumped into brewing with both feet.

Some women who join family businesses in male-dominated industries find it difficult to rise through the ranks. Even when women are welcomed into these companies, they face challenges. They say they’ve had to work a little harder than their male counterparts for professional respect and recognition. They cite three keys to their success: getting buy-in for their role, educating themselves on business strategies and networking with other women in their industries.

Though gender parity in the top echelons of the business world remains a long way away, women have slowly been making progress, particularly in family firms.

Take Barbara Moran-Goodrich, CEO and sole owner of the Moran Family of Brands, an automotive service company based in Midlothian, Ill. When she entered the business in the 1980s, her father, Dennis Moran, assumed the company would go to his sons. Dennis went beyond discouraging Barbara in taking a leadership role ‑ he told her it would never happen.

Yet it did. Through experience and education, Barbara gained not only her father’s trust, but also his blessing to take over the business when he retired in 1990.

Moran-Goodrich says proving herself “didn’t happen overnight.” She says she has had to demonstrate her business know-how and her passion for cars.

You can read an in-depth account of the Yuengling sisters’ journey into the family business, and more about Moran-Goodrich’s experience in our upcoming issue of Family Business Magazine.

Moran-Goodrich will also share her story and advice at our upcoming family business conference, Transitions East 2018, in April.