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Women in Manufacturing: A Catalyst for Growth

Historically, the manufacturing landscape has been male-dominated, with perceptions that many tasks solely require physical strength. However, the narrative is changing as the industry welcomes many talents, recognizing that capability stems from innovation and hiring team members with multiple backgrounds. 

In many parts of the world, the integration of women into manufacturing is gradually altering the industry’s demographics. This pace could be accelerated locally to match global strides. The pathway forward is learning from global benchmarks and adopting practices that embrace a wider talent pool. 

 

Women in Manufacturing 

Globally, the inclusion of women in manufacturing is becoming more recognized, with evidence pointing to their substantial contribution to economic growth. For example, nearly half of the factory workers are women in densely populated China. McKinsey reports that women across Asia contribute around 36 percent of the continent’s GDP.¹ Although it varies per country, it still represents the value women can bring to the working world.  

This shift has been propelled by several factors, including broader access to education and the dismantling of traditional career path expectations. Moreover, technological advancements and moves toward automation have also made the manufacturing sector more accessible, allowing for a broader inclusion of talent. 

As multinational companies build extensive supply chains and factories across the region, a massive demand for labor emerges, opening opportunities for more women.  

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

 

The Benefits of Focusing on Women in Manufacturing 

A focus on fostering a dynamic workforce, including the active recruitment and retention of women, yields multiple benefits: 

 

1. Improved Innovation and Decision-Making 

When companies focus on recruiting and retaining women in manufacturing, they open doors to fresh perspectives and ideas. Due to their unique experiences, women may approach problems differently from men. This makes it possible for them to offer alternative solutions and innovative approaches. 

Research published in Harvard Business Review shows that diverse teams do better at solving problems and making decisions. Creating a team with individuals from varying backgrounds encourages a culture where different perspectives and innovations are encouraged.  

 

2. Access to Wider Candidate Pool 

Statista predicts that by the end of 2023, the US population will reach 166 million men and 169 million women.2 Considering these numbers, actively recruiting women in manufacturing opens opportunities to tap into a bigger talent pool.  

Aside from gaining access to more employees, you also improve your chances of finding professionals with the exact skills you’re looking for, giving you more options to hire the most qualified candidate for the role regardless of gender.  

 

3. Address Labor Shortages 

The manufacturing industry faces a growing labor shortage as part of its workforce approaches retirement. Moreover, there’s a lack of skilled workers as inexperienced graduates enter the field. 

By recruiting women, companies mitigate the impact of staffing shortages. They can also bring new skills and talents that the current workforce lacks. This allows businesses to adapt to changing industry demands and remain competitive in the long run.  

Read More: Pioneering Progress – How Women are Reshaping Manufacturing

 

Challenges of Women in the Manufacturing Industry 

Positioning teams for growth and hiring more women in manufacturing goes beyond recruitment efforts. It’s also about establishing an environment where each team member has the opportunity to thrive. This begins with identifying challenges women may face in manufacturing and developing strategies to address them. 

 

1. Industry Culture 

In many manufacturing environments, women may feel excluded or marginalized, leading to frustration and less productive teams. Create a workplace culture that values open communication, and actively combats discrimination. 

 

2. Work-Life Balance 

Research published by the Pew Research Center found that women are more likely to adjust their careers for their families than men.3 Without enough support to create a work-life balance, many women tend to leave their careers and industries behind. Again, by fostering an environment that encourages open dialogue, employees are more likely to communicate when scheduling challenges arise, leading to more productive long-term solutions and policies. 

 

3. Advancement Opportunities 

Unconscious bias in hiring, performance evaluations, and promotion selections often restricts women from moving into leadership roles within manufacturing organizations. Additionally, women’s lack of mentorship and career development opportunities hinders their professional growth and advancement prospects. Consider targeted training and mentorship programs to help all employees, regardless of gender, develop the skills needed for success in their manufacturing roles. 

 

Key Tips and Takeaways for Employers 

The evolving role of women in manufacturing is not just a sign of changing times but a necessary evolution toward a more dynamic and innovative future. As we recognize and celebrate these contributions, it’s clear that the path forward is one of continued growth and shared success. 

Here are some essential tips and takeaways to help you drive growth and innovation by focusing on employing female professionals in manufacturing: 

 

1. Understand what women look for. 

As employers in the manufacturing industry, it’s crucial to understand your female employees’ needs and preferences. 

Beyond competitive salaries and job security, women prioritize career advancement opportunities, workplace culture, and work-life balance. Engage with female employees through surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one discussions to gain insights into their aspirations, challenges, and priorities. 

By understanding what motivates and drives them, you can tailor your recruitment strategies and create a workplace that fosters their professional growth and satisfaction. 

 

2. Create a supportive work environment. 

Employees need an environment that supports them to thrive and succeed. They need to be part of a culture that allows them to feel valued, respected, and empowered.  

Developing open communication channels where female employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and perspectives is a good starting place. You can also establish clear policies against discrimination or harassment with meaningful consequences for violators.  

Moreover, remember to show your support and appreciation regularly. Celebrate milestones and accomplishments of your people through simple gestures like verbal recognition, small trinkets, a lunch-out, or a short email.  

 

3. Offer policies that enable work-life balance. 

As mentioned, women tend to leave their careers when forced to choose between their professional and personal lives. So, to retain your female employees, you need to implement policies that aid them in achieving a work-life balance. 

You can offer flexible working arrangements such as varied shifts and flexible hours if possible. This way, they can choose the best time and place for work and attend to their personal responsibilities while meeting production requirements. You may also consider creating family-friendly policies like parental leaves or onsite childcare support to help your people alleviate their unique challenges.  

 

4. Provide targeted skills training programs. 

To close any existing skill gaps, you can offer skills training programs to help women develop the competencies they need to succeed in their roles.  

Whether it’s technical training or leadership development programs, you can help them prepare for future advancement opportunities. This increases both the retention rate of women employees and the attractiveness of your company to female candidates.  

 

5. Encourage mentoring programs and support groups for women. 

The manufacturing industry is still dominated by men, which may discourage women from joining the field to avoid isolation or indifference.  

As an employer, you can prevent this by establishing mentoring programs and support groups for women. By providing them with a source of guidance and invaluable support, you are giving them ways to navigate the unique challenges they may face.  

Pair female employees with mentors who can provide advice, support, and career guidance based on their own experiences. Create spaces where women can connect, share experiences, and support each other through formal networking events, informal meetups, or online communities.  

 

LEVERAGE CORPORATE JOB BANK’S NETWORK FILLED WITH TOP TALENT 

Creating a dynamic workforce requires effective strategies to be successful. At Corporate Job Bank, we have the network, knowledge, and strategies needed to successfully recruit the right talent for your open roles. We partner with community members such as  Women In Manufacturing to continue the conversation and push toward advancing innovative, diverse teams. 

With over 1,000 satisfied clients, we can ensure personalized solutions to your staffing needs. Contact us today to learn more! 

 

References 

  1. Rock, David, and Grant, Heidi. “Why Diverse Teams Are Smarter.” Harvard Business Review, 4 Nov. 2016, hbr.org/2016/11/why-diverse-teams-are-smarter. 
  2. “Total Population in the United States by Gender from 2010 to 2027.” Statista, 5 Oct. 2023, www.statista.com/statistics/737923/us-population-by-gender 
  3. Parker, Kim. “Women More than Men Adjust Their Careers for Family Life.” Pew Research Center, 1 Oct. 2015, www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2015/10/01/women-more-than-men-adjust-their-careers-for-family-life/. 

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