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Women in Manufacturing: How to Succeed in a Male-Dominated Field

Women currently make up about one-third of the American manufacturing workforce. But women also make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce. Manufacturing is still a male-dominated industry, but it’s where a lot of the good-paying jobs are that can help you get ahead. Over the years, the volume of women in the field has fluctuated. During times of war, women stepped it up in America’s factories to produce more war-time goods. But today that number has declined to just one-third.
March is Women’s History Month. We thought it would be a good celebration of the month to talk a bit about how women can break into what is still the male-dominated manufacturing industry. Here are some tips to help you snag a better job.

Women in Industry

U.S. manufacturing supports more than 17 million jobs in a stable, lucrative field. Yet, there are more than two million jobs that will likely go unfilled annually in the coming years, simply because there aren’t enough skilled workers to step up production. But in nearly 100 years of U.S. manufacturing, there’s only been an 8% increase of women in the field. So, what’s the problem?
A Women in Manufacturing report showed 59% of the women surveyed said they couldn’t think of a single manufacturing company that actively promoted and hired women employees. As a result, 68% said they wouldn’t consider a career path in the field. An article in MachineDesign suggests a few ways even small employers could increase the number of women on the job:

  1. Start by educating at the high school and college-level about the benefits of working in manufacturing. The article suggests that educators and parents need to reconsider their support of manufacturing as a valid professional career. Manufacturing pays well and offers a viable career path without the four-year college degree and the debt that typically entails.
  2. Women in engineering and manufacturing need to step up and mentor other women into the field. We are seeing more organizations recognize this, including the Million Women Mentor program for STEM careers (science, technology, engineering, manufacturing).
  3. More people need to recognize that manufacturing is meaningful work. Women already in the field (and their male counterparts) need to share their stories more often so that others understand the value of working in this field.

The Future of Women in Manufacturing

In 2019, IndustryWeek stated, “Women are Critical to Manufacturing’s Future.” They recognized that women are generally underrepresented in this critical workforce, but that there are many types of jobs in the field just waiting for more people to step up to take them. One of the biggest concerns that management in these companies expresses is that there aren’t enough qualified, dedicated workers to keep things running in their companies. They state, “Women represent one of the largest pools of untapped talent for manufacturers, and closing manufacturing’s gender gap is key to closing the skills gap that has limited businesses’ ability to evolve and expand.”

Looking for a Job? We Can Help!

If you are a woman interested in exploring a career in the manufacturing sector, we welcome your call. Lingo Staffing has a variety of short and long-term roles available. Talk to our team about how we can help you crack the manufacturing glass ceiling.


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