Why Women Could Be the Future of Manufacturing

Why Women Could Be the Future of Manufacturing

Manufacturing is likely to experience more rapid and dramatic changes from automation in the near future than most other sectors. Despite fears that robots will steal manufacturing jobs away from human beings, US manufacturers still expect to need millions of new employees over the coming decade, who will need to be more highly skilled than past generations of manufacturing workers. One strategy these employers are looking at for filling that need is to attract more women to the sector. At Chief Executive, Craig Guillot discusses why manufacturing is no longer a man’s world:

The advent of new technologies and robotics has reduced many of the physical demands of the jobs that historically discouraged women. In addition, many of today’s manufacturing workers tend to be highly educated and command strong salaries. They also work in clean, air-conditioned factories and don’t have to do heavy lifting for long periods of time. … Women who currently work in manufacturing show a high level of satisfaction with the work and compensation. More than two-thirds of respondents said they would stay in manufacturing if they were to start their career today. Current female manufacturing workers said in another study sponsored by Women in Manufacturing that they were motivated by “interesting work” and “high earning potential.” Three-quarters of respondents said the manufacturing industry offers multiple job roles for women, and half said it was a leading industry for job growth.

Experts say the biggest barrier in recruiting women is the negative perception that many have about the sector. Manufacturing is still seen as a male-dominated industry with dirty, sweaty jobs, and 70% of females surveyed in the WiM report said they would not likely consider manufacturing a career path. WiM says manufacturers need to engage in a public campaign to engage young women in the industry and to highlight promising careers and success stories.

A 2015 Deloitte study on the gender gap in manufacturing found that women make up only 27 percent of the manufacturing workforce, but those who do work in the field tend to be highly educated and experienced, either holding or aspiring to hold senior positions. Nonetheless, nearly three quarters of the women surveyed by Deloitte said their female peers were underrepresented in their company’s leadership, and that the industry had a bias toward men in leadership. Most also said there was a double standard when it came to judging men’s and women’s performance, with women held to a higher standard. In addition, more than seven in 10 said they thought there was a pay gap in their industry.