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How Has COVID Impacted Women in Manufacturing?

Women were disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The McKinsey report, Women in the Workplace says that women are increasingly burned out—and more so than men. As a result, one in four women report they may downshift their careers or retire early. How will this affect the manufacturing sector?

Women in Manufacturing

Historically, the manufacturing field has been dominated by men. During COVID, the manufacturing industry in the U.S. lost the prior six years of job gains, with layoffs and downsizing totaling 578,000 jobs. Ironically, the same jobs report said there were 500,000 jobs still open and unfilled in the field. The data shows us that fewer than one in every three people working in the manufacturing industry are women but at the same time, women are more likely to leave the industry than their male counterparts.
Since women still provide the majority of child and home caretaking in this country, the pandemic may have affected more women leaving the manufacturing field. But a Deloitte study suggested, “While this could be due to the extenuating circumstances of the pandemic, it could also speak to how work is organized in manufacturing.” The lack of flexibility in hours could create an undue burden for women who are faced with childcare challenges, particularly during the COVID pandemic.
An American Progress study noted the pandemic’s general impact on women in the workforce, stating:
“The collapse of the child care sector and drastic reductions in school supervision hours as a result of COVID-19 could drive millions of mothers out of the paid workforce. Inaction could cost billions, undermine family economic security, and set gender equity back a generation.”
They noted that there were nearly 10 million women with young children in the workforce in 2019. But insufficient childcare during the COVID lockdowns represented huge issues that affected, “their work, their wages, their long-term economic outcomes, and the economic recovery.”
According to the Deloitte study, women are not only underrepresented in the manufacturing sector, but they are 1.8 times more likely to leave the industry. The lack of scheduling flexibility in these roles has been a key factor in the decision-making process.
Yet, when women are empowered to lead in the manufacturing industry, they make great gains for their employers in everything from cost-cutting to cross-functional team collaboration to sustainability, according to the data. Perhaps that is why, “In manufacturing, DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) is often focused on women.”
But it seems to be two steps forward and one step backward for women in manufacturing because women face more than the challenges of a male-dominated industry. In manufacturing, like all job fields, women are promoted to managerial roles less than men. McKinsey calls it a “broken rung” on the workplace ladder. For every 100 men promoted to manager, only 86 women are promoted.

Lingo Staffing is Here to Help Women in Manufacturing

So, today, it still seems that women face challenges when considering entrance into the manufacturing field. COVID-19 only exacerbated these issues. For companies and women entering the field, these difficulties require new types of partnerships focused on improving the inequities of women in the manufacturing field. Lingo Staffing is devoted to helping manufacturers meet their DEI goals by providing high-quality talent, including women, into the manufacturing sector. Call on us to find out how we can help.

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