Three Ways to Increase the Number of Women in the Manufacturing Industry
It’s a problem that many in manufacturing are just beginning to recognize. There is a widening skills gap in manufacturing, where it is becoming increasingly difficult to find new, young workers with the skill set to fill open manufacturing jobs. What is exacerbating this problem is that few women have been historically encouraged to pursue manufacturing, cutting the potential new talent pool almost in half.
The statistics are sobering. While women currently represent about half the labor force, they only have 27 percent of manufacturing jobs, and that number has increased a barely significant 8 percent over the last century or so.
What is the solution? How can we get more women in manufacturing and give your manufacturing business the ability to optimize your workforce? Here are three ways we can support women in manufacturing.
1. Offer Women Meaningful Work
Manufacturing isn’t the occupation most women think about when they leave college — even ones who were on a STEM track. This may be because young people don’t always realize just how important and influential manufacturing can be.
Women working in manufacturing can lead the way in climate change, robotics, artificial intelligence and more, all while working in a field that is continually challenging its practitioners and giving them engaging puzzles to solve. More education about the applications of manufacturing for young women getting ready to enter the workforce can be a great start.
2. Create a Welcoming Climate
Around 30 percent of women who leave the engineering profession say that organizational climate is why. Even in the 21st century, there may be many people — especially those who have worked in manufacturing for decades — who feel that manufacturing is “men’s work.” Holding this attitude in and of itself is bad for a company, but even worse is when employees make those feelings known around the few women who actually decide to take up the challenge.
If you do have women employees, it’s important to make sure they’re in a safe work environment and that they have a way to air grievances if their co-workers are not behaving appropriately.
3. Provide Mentorship and Hands-On Experience
Since there are so few women in manufacturing, there are also few role models, which can make it harder for new women to get excited about joining the effort. Manufacturers who do employ women should consider establishing a program that incentivizes those women to take potential female recruits under their wing and show them the ropes.
In that same vein, more companies should offer opportunities to give hands-on experience to young women, such as internships and competitions, so they can see first-hand just how exciting the manufacturing world can really be. These programs can be a great way to excite the next generation of women about the field.
How can you implement the above ideas into your manufacturing operation? Do you have any other great ideas for attracting talented women into the manufacturing world? Let us know in the comments, or visit us at Global Electronic Services to learn more.