Women In Manufacturing Gaining Momentum

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, there are currently around 12.1 million people working in manufacturing, making it the nation’s fifth largest employer. This represents a considerable bounce back after a prolonged period of decline in the early part of this century. And what’s particularly interesting is that 30% of those jobs are filled by women.

This isn’t quite a reason to break out the champagne. Currently, women account for around 47% of the general workforce, meaning the industry is still lagging behind many others. But it does, at least, provide a strong platform from which manufacturing companies can build a more gender-balanced future.

A whole new world: As for what’s driving this progress, there are several factors at play. Certainly, the perception of manufacturing as a dirty, dingy world is on the wane. Instead, word is spreading that the industry is now more about automation than perspiration. Meanwhile, the rigid technical jobs of the past have been replaced by more contemporary roles centered around innovation, problem-solving, adaptability and collaboration. These characteristics are, historically at least, more in line with what female workers look for in a career.

PROMOTED: In its own way, COVID-19 helped too. Despite the disruption to operations and supply chains, the pandemic shone new light on the vital role manufacturers play in our daily lives — everything from putting food on the table to providing vital medicines and household goods. This, in turn, has made more people (both male and female) consider the industry as somewhere they can build a meaningful long-term career.

There are other positive changes as well. The growing focus on teaming, experimentation, attention to detail and hybrid working is making manufacturing feel like a more modern and inclusive place to work for all. In education, STEM subjects are not the male-dominated environment they used to be and, as a result, we’re seeing more women take on roles in engineering, quality control, product design and more. And while there is still work to do when it comes to creating more gender-balanced management teams — currently only one in four manufacturing leaders is female — these figures too are heading in the right direction.

Source: Forbes.com