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Progress in Manufacturing: Women Who Are Pioneering Advancements 

The landscape of our workforce has evolved significantly, with opportunities expanding across various sectors for all talented individuals. Recent statistics from the US Census Bureau show that women comprise 47 percent of the American workforce, showcasing a broad spectrum of talent contributing to industry advancements.¹ This data represents professionals with unique perspectives that help drive improvements within their industries.


Women in Manufacturing 

Historically perceived as a sector requiring only physical strength, manufacturing has transformed to welcome many talents, including a significant contribution from women, who now represent 30 percent of the workforce in this sector.¹ This shift underscores the evolving nature of the manufacturing industry.

Women are not just participating; they lead and innovate within the sector, demonstrating that talent knows no bounds. Their roles range from on-the-ground engineering to executive leadership, contributing to the industry’s growth and evolution.

Read More: 2024 Labor Trends – Insights into Wage Growth and Labor Force Participation 


Leaders and Trailblazers in the Field 

The achievements of women in manufacturing are laying a foundation for future generations, proving that the industry offers opportunities for everyone with the passion and talent to pursue them. Their success stories are breaking down perceptions and opening up new possibilities. Here are three notable women making significant impacts:


1. Marillyn Hewson – Chief Executive Officer of Lockheed Martin Corporation

Listed as number nine on 2018 Forbes’ World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, Marilyn Hewson has over 35 years of experience as an industrial engineer.² As CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation, the US’s largest defense contractor, Hewson oversees over 110,000 employees advancing innovative technologies.

While taking the helm in 2013 and maintaining the company as a leader in aerospace technology, she was appointed the board chair of Catalyst in 2019—a global expert in driving progress for women through workplace inclusion.


2. Kathryn Kelley – Executive Director of the Ohio Manufacturing Institute

Kathryn Kelley serves as the Executive Director of the Ohio Manufacturing Institute. She is equipped with more than 20 years of experience in program leadership and strategic communications.³ Using her experience and expertise, she helps drive the development of regional and national public policies that support manufacturing innovations for every professional in the field.


3. Mary Barra – Chief Executive Officer of General Motors

As Chief Executive Officer of General Motors, Mary Barra leads one of the few global businesses with no gender pay gap, as reported in the 2018 Global Report on Gender Equality.⁴ She made history by being the first-ever woman to lead a major global automaker company.

She spearheaded GM’s push into electric vehicles. Her bold leadership is set to revolutionize the future of transportation while also furthering diversity and inclusion within the manufacturing industry.


The Benefits of a Broad Talent Pool 

Women’s involvement in manufacturing contributes to a richer, more varied pool of ideas and perspectives. This is driving creative solutions and helping the industry address complex challenges, enhancing competitiveness and innovation. The increasing influence of female executives, engineers, line workers, and inventors is creating numerous benefits for the industry, such as:


1. Varied Perspectives and Solutions

Diversely talented teams bring various perspectives, experiences, and solutions. This enhances the overall creativity and innovation within teams, which leads to more comprehensive and effective solutions to complex challenges.

Related Article: 8 Tips HR Professionals Can Use to Reduce Bias in the Hiring Process 


2. Addressing Skills Gaps

Having a wider talent pool allows companies to bring in a more diverse set of skills to their workforce. Hiring with equal opportunity helps address skills gaps and create a more well-rounded workforce equipped to handle the complexities of modern manufacturing.


3. Global Competitiveness

In an increasingly globalized market, diverse talent contributes to the global competitiveness of a manufacturing company. Understanding and embracing varying perspectives within teams allows organizations to navigate international markets more effectively and develop products that appeal to a broader consumer base.


Ways to Create Opportunities in Manufacturing 

While progress has been made, continuous effort is needed to ensure that the manufacturing industry remains welcoming and accessible to all talented individuals. This includes initiatives aimed at outreach, education, and policy development to support a diversely talented workforce.

For example, Corporate Job Bank is involved in the Women in Manufacturing Association, which creates more opportunities, connections, and relevant education for women. Here are some other promising approaches that are gaining traction across the manufacturing field:


1. School Outreach Programs for Young Girls

Initiating targeted school outreach programs aimed at young girls can be instrumental. These programs emphasize the various career paths within manufacturing trades and engineering. Early exposure not only builds confidence but also cultivates essential skills and motivation for younger generations to pursue manufacturing roles in their future careers.


2. Paid Internships and Apprenticeships

Providing paid internships and apprenticeships is a practical strategy to empower women in manufacturing. Along with offering hands-on experience, these programs help offset opportunity costs. Additionally, rotational programs within manufacturing operations contribute to building cross-functional awareness.


3. Company-Sponsored Mentorships and Leadership Councils

Establishing company-sponsored mentorship programs and leadership councils is a great step in creating opportunities. These initiatives provide employees with essential networking, coaching, and development opportunities. These initiatives help form a solid foundation for women’s professional growth and advancement.


4. Employee Resource Groups

Establishing professional networking circles aimed at supporting women cultivates a space for sharing expertise and guidance. These outlets serve as a conduit for discussing broader workplace challenges and strategies while also underscoring the strategic advantages of a balanced workforce to organizational leaders.


5. Celebrating Influential Women and Manufacturing Leaders

Recognizing and celebrating their contributions through awards greatly enhances their visibility. This role-modeling effect is instrumental in inspiring more young women to envision and pursue long-term careers within the manufacturing sector.


6. Comprehensive Initiatives

Ensuring a balanced representation of women in the field extends beyond mere plans. Companies and leaders must act decisively to turn their strategies into reality, creating meaningful roles for women. This approach will foster a more varied and dynamic work environment.

Read More: How Recruiting Firms Empower Business Leaders to Achieve Goals 



Whether you’re a professional looking for job opportunities or a company looking for talent to support your industry’s advancements, Corporate Job Bank is here to connect you to the right people.

We value our community and all the people we interact with. With us as your staffing partner, you can be assured that your career or hiring needs are in capable hands.

Reach out to us today to learn more about our services!



  1. “Manufacturing Opens More Doors to Women.” US Department of Commerce, 6 Oct. 2022, www.commerce.gov/manufacturing-opens-more-doors-women
  1. “Marillyn Hewson Profile.” Forbes, 2024, www.forbes.com/marillyn-hewson.
  1. “Kathryn Kelley Profile.” Ohio State University, 2024, steamfactory.osu.edu/people/kelley.
  1. Taylor, Harriet. “GM, Bank of America and Johnson & Johnson Earn Top Scores in New Study of Corporate Gender Equality.” CNBC, 19 Feb. 2019, www.cnbc.com/gm-tops-new-gender-equality-ranking-at-americas-largest-companies.

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