Frontline: Women Will Help Fill the Manufacturing Skills Gap
Realizing that women are an untapped labor pool for manufacturers, several companies are undertaking initiatives to recruit and develop the best female talent.
Women can fill this gap. According to McNelly, women represent nearly 47 percent of the total labor force, but only make up 27 percent of the manufacturing workforce. McNelly stresses that not only do women bring a diversity of thought to the workforce, they also offer a unique perspective as consumers. “They are an untapped talent pool,” she says.
McNelly attributes the lack of women entering the manufacturing workforce to the limited awareness of the diversity of career opportunities in modern manufacturing today. “People don’t realize that modern manufacturing provides challenging, fulfilling, and well-paying careers with opportunity for advancement,” she notes. “In this industry, you aren’t stuck in one position. You are open to endless opportunities, whether you’re interested in design, engineering, or even marketing and business.” Today’s modern manufacturing includes application of technology, robotics, and new innovation.
Manufacturers are now making it a priority to recruit and develop women. Jennifer McNelly, executive director, Manufacturing Institute Three-fourths of the Institute’s respondents in its Women in Manufacturing Study indicate that they believe that women are underrepresented within their organization’s leadership team. It also found that the proportion of women in leadership roles in manufacturing lags behind other U.S. industries. “However, there are more than enough qualified women out there,” McNelly says. “Manufacturers are now making it a priority to recruit and develop women.”
Eaton Corp. has introduced three specific initiatives to attract women to manufacturing: its mentoring program, flexible work, and its Eaton Resources Groups (ERGs). “One of several ERGs that Eaton has formed is called WAVE — Women Adding Value at Eaton — which has a strategic focus on the attraction, advancement, and retention of women,” according to Cathy Medeiros, vice president of Global Inclusion & Diversity at Eaton Corp. “WAVE also is focused on providing opportunities for women at Eaton to connect and collaborate and have a support system,” she explains.
Caterpillar Corp. has a global initiative called Women in Leadership, which focuses on changing the representation of women at Caterpillar and in its industry. “To disrupt a traditional mindset of men only in the heavy equipment and power generation businesses, our programs focus on three pillars: sponsorship from the top, pipeline building in the middle, and cultural change from the ground up,” says Kelly Wojda, Caterpillar Diversity & Talent director.
Caterpillar has a significant focus on recruiting and developing the best female talent, using relationships with partners like the Society of Women Engineers, as well as new avenues for reaching female talent directly via social media. “We are also encouraging more explicit role modeling from our female leaders who hold a variety of top STEM-related jobs at Caterpillar,” Wojda says.
2020 Gold & Silver Shovel Awards Recognize State and Local Economic Development Efforts
How are Uncertain Times Altering Company Location Strategies?
2019 Top States for Doing Business: Georgia Ranks #1 Sixth Year in a Row
Infrastructure Investment as an Economic Stimulus Tool
34th Annual Corporate Survey & the 16th Annual Consultants Survey
Site Selection 2020: The Importance of “Regional Depth” with Global Reach