Portrait Shot Of Pretty Blonde Technologist Wearing White Coat T
Portrait shot of pretty blonde technologist wearing white coat taking necessary notes on digital tablet while working at spacious production department of milk factory

Women’s representation in manufacturing is well behind other industries and making slow progress, which is the focus of a new report from the Manufacturers Alliance Foundation. The report notes that although women make up 47% of the overall U.S. workforce, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they’re only filling 29% of manufacturing jobs. And their share diminishes going up the ladder to management and C-suite positions. 

To uncover what’s stalling progress for women in the industry, Manufacturers Alliance conducted an online survey of manufacturing employees. They found a significant difference in the percentage of men and women who believed the industry has made great strides in equal pay and opportunities over the past five years — only 38% of women said they believe there’s been progress, compared to 82% of men. 

And with very few female leaders in the industry — nearly three in four manufacturers don’t think their company has a fair amount of women in leadership roles — women are less likely than men to feel confident and comfortable in higher level positions. About two-thirds of women disagreed that their appearance has no impact on how others perceive their leadership skills, while only 37% of men disagreed with the same statement. More women (40%) than men (22%) said they don’t feel safe speaking out or disagreeing with others during meetings. 

Women leaders in manufacturing are also struggling to succeed in their career journey. Far fewer women than men feel like they have mentoring opportunities and resources to drive their career forward (41% compared to 82%). They are also much less likely to agree that their company’s promotions are not biased by gender/sex (48% compared to 78%). 

To help manufacturers mitigate these problems and better promote gender equality in the industry, Manufacturers Alliance outlined several recommendations, including:

  • Supporting women who are caregivers and working mothers by offering paid parental and family leave and providing more flexibility. 
  • Meeting women where they are by recruiting from women’s professional societies and academic groups, and training interview teams to reduce bias in the hiring process. 
  • Expanding mentorship programs with particular attention to how such programs impact women. 
  • Building a clear path to leadership and including women in succession planning. 
  • Nurturing a workplace culture of zero tolerance for discrimination and harassment. 
  • Holding leaders accountable for implementing changes and delivering on DEI promises. 

For a complete picture of the current state of women’s representation in manufacturing, see the full report from Manufacturers Alliance.

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