Why Aren’t More Women in the Manufacturing Industry?

Why Aren’t More Women in the Manufacturing Industry?

Manufacturing and related technical fields have steadily grown in terms of employment. Despite this increase in opportunity, it continues to be a male-dominated field. In fact, it seems women are actually losing ground in it.

Consider these facts:

“A 2011 study last year by the National Women's Law Center found that while men gained 230,000 jobs in manufacturing between 2010 and 2011, women lost 25,000 jobs. Today, only 30 percent of the estimated 14 million Americans who work in manufacturing are women. In higher education for manufacturing, the numbers are even grimmer: only about 15 percent of students in manufacturing degree programs are women.”

Why is that and what can be done to change it?

There are many reasons why there are so few women in manufacturing. There’s a lack of role models, less flexibility, which women with families often need, and more gender stereotyping than in other fields.

Another reason is that manufacturing jobs often have a public relations problem. For instance, there’s a perception that all jobs in the field are low-skill and repetitive, on top of requiring a certain level of physical strength and stamina. However, this is only true for a portion of them. Many positions require highly skilled workers and offer meaningful and rewarding work. In addition, facilities are technologically advanced with high-tech teams of employees collaborating and communicating together.

Likewise, when it comes to the manufacturing industry, the pay disparity is a large one. In fact, a report by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) found that on a global level, women are paid approximately 18 percent less than men doing the same manufacturing work. It’s just another reason many women shun the field and look for work elsewhere.

On the other hand, today’s manufacturers have many roles to fill and, as a result, are stepping up their game in terms of trying to attract female candidates. For instance, they’re doing this through various community outreach programs to change the perception of a manufacturing career among those in school and college. They’re also integrating policies in the workplace that help make schedules more flexible.

This is important, considering study after study shows the benefit of having a gender diverse team. In fact, those with an equal gender mix most often perform better than male-dominated teams in terms of sales and profits. It’s why it makes economic sense to source and recruit more women to the field.


Was created for companies wishing to strengthen the talent pipeline in manufacturing professions by providing woman-focused professional development and relationship building opportunities. 

“The benefits of joining Inforum is Networking and Professional Development. ManufacturingNEXT supports Inforum’s overall mission to improve the business environment in Michigan by helping women lead and succeed”, says Becky Puckett-Wood, Vice President, Corporate and Member Engagement with Inforum.  The group enables Inforum’s members to connect with and learn from others in their industry. Members also get the chance to dig into and examine specific topics and issues most relevant to them.  

The October 9th ManufacturingNEXT event will be about “Getting to YES for careers in Manufacturing”.  Click event to review the details of the event and to register @


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