Industry Market Trends

Friday Focus: The Shifting Role of Women in Manufacturing

Jan 25, 2013

Women represent a low percentage of the manufacturing workforce, but new reports signal their growing role - more females are enrolling in manufacturing education. And that's not to say women haven't been making an impact in manufacturing either. This month, over 100 women across the country were honored for their industry achievements.

To drive success and to boost the overall economy, American manufacturers need to attract diverse, highly skilled talent, but only a small number of women are part of

Credit: Manufacturing Institute Credit: Manufacturing Institute

the talent pool. While the latest available data from 2011 indicates that women make up nearly 47 percent of the overall labor force, the percentage drops drastically for women in manufacturing. A report by the National Women's Law Center underscores this issue, citing that between 2010 and 2011, the annual average employment of women dropped by 25,000 jobs, a sharp contrast to men in the industry, whose annual average employment increased by 230,000.

In spite of these discouraging figures, recent news suggests that trends are changing for women in the industry. One highlight is a surge of female enrollment in manufacturing education, indicating that more women are interested in the sector, which has reported difficulty in attracting women for years. IMT Career Journal sister publication IMT recently reported Why More Women Aren't in Manufacturing, referencing gender stereotyping, discrimination on the job, and a pay gap as key factors.

Here is our latest weekly web roundup highlighting encouraging news about women in manufacturing.


STEP Awards Honor 122 Women in Manufacturing

The Manufacturing Institute, along with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, University of Pheonix and Deloitte, recently announced 122 award honorees for the first annual STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Awards, which recognize women in manufacturing for their significant achievements in the industry. "These women will illustrate the widespread impact women have on shaping the industry, whether they are running the company, designing the next big product or testing innovations on the shop floor," according to the institute.

The STEP Awards are part of a grand-scale initiative to encourage and promote the role of women in the industry, and The Manufacturing Institute, together with partners, will honor the recipients at reception in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 5.


Trend Shift: More Women Enrolling in Manufacturing Education

This week, a report out of Wisconsin underscores how a local school, Chippewa Valley Technical College, is seeing a spike in female enrollment in specialized degree programs including Manufacturing Engineering and Machine Tooling. One enrolled student told the publication, "...there is a misconception that industrial jobs are only physical,"  but this is not the case in various manufacturing professions.

See the video here:


How Women's Role in Industry is Changing

A recent Executive Briefing webcast by Modern Distribution Management addresses the evolving role of women in manufacturing, in an interview with Nancye Combs, President and CEO of HR Enterprise, and provides insight into the drivers of change and how higher education has helped women shift from administrative positions to leadership roles.


See the full webcast here.