Earlier in our series featuring women in manufacturing you read about why the manufacturing industry needs more women. Now let’s talk about how to get more women to work for manufacturing organizations.
As per a report published by the Manufacturing Institute, while women represent nearly 47% of the total US labor force, they make up less than a third (27%) of the manufacturing workforce. With women representing less than a third of the manufacturing workforce, it is clear manufacturers are missing out on a critical talent pool, which could aid in closing the much-discussed skills gap.
Think of a woman in manufacturing, and the image of Rosie the Riveter may come to mind. She is a cultural icon, representing American women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II, many of whom produced munitions and war supplies. Isn’t it time we found a new Rosie, a realistic representation of what it’s like to be a woman today working in the manufacturing industry? This realistic representation and role models are important for attracting women to manufacturing.
Here are some of the other ways to encourage more women to enter the manufacturing space.
Start with STEM
Lessons learned at a young age stay with us throughout our lives. Keeping this in mind, it’s important to capture the imagination of girls in elementary school, even as early as kindergarten, by encouraging interest and excellence in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This means actively promoting these subjects and reinforcing achievement and progress.
The manufacturing industry has a reputation for being male dominated. Moreover, manufacturing jobs are thought of as being dirty and requiring manual labor. These beliefs may be repelling a majority of women, and indeed men, from considering the manufacturing industry as a viable career option. In order to change this perspective, there has to be a change in the industry perception. Manufacturing companies should consider rebranding to show the world how interesting manufacturing truly is and will continue to be.
Women for women
Hire women and they can in turn help recruit more women. It is important for women to see other women doing the job they want to do. Women need role models in the workplace that represent their backgrounds and experiences. Have your company reach out to schools and universities to communicate all of the amazing ways manufacturing shapes our lives.
Creating mentoring programs within an organization helps support the promotion of women into leadership positions. A mentor can coach and be a vocal advocate for an individual to assist with that person’s professional development. In order to develop professionally, individuals need companies to provide a clear understanding of the leadership and technical skills required for specific positions. This will allow women and men alike to decide on specific goals for improvement and achievement.
Women are manufacturing’s largest pool of untapped talent. Engage them and energize them with the many options manufacturing careers offer. Women will bring fresh perspective to the problems facing the industry and will help organizations gain a competitive edge in the global market. And the good news is that the move toward gender parity in manufacturing is already starting to happen.
Do you know of any manufacturers that have made an effort to hire more women? We want to hear about them.