How the Manufacturing Sector is Working to Attract and Retain More Women

Engineer And Apprentice Using Automated Milling Machine
Engineer And Apprentice Using Automated Milling Machine

With unemployment at historic lows and large numbers of baby boomers already entering retirement it has become increasingly important for the manufacturing sector to more aggressively promote jobs to the female workforce, not to mention the many benefits working in a more diverse atmosphere can bring to employees and employers alike. It’s no secret that manufacturing has been a male-dominated industry since its inception. But in 2016 is it still appropriate that while 47% of the workforce is female that only translates to 27% of the manufacturing workforce? There are several programs out there to close this gap, but beyond the formal events, education and awards, employers have many opportunities to make their company more appealing to prospective female employees.


Let’s start with reviewing the programs that exist today and what you can do to participate.

Start with an online visit to This website features a job board, events and training programs. To attract prospective employees consider sponsoring the organization’s many events (ie: SUMMIT or Leadership Lab), join the association as a Corporate Sponsor, post your job openings and get engaged at the local level. There are community chapters spanning 16 states where you can contact the chapter lead and engage directly with manufacturing’s female leaders.carousel-2

When it comes to retaining women in manufacturing, encourage your female teammates to

participate in these programs. Invest in their ongoing professional development and networking. Perhaps encourage them to present on a topic that comprises their knowledge and skillset.


Next, read this article provided by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute:

Then download the infographic:

Consider the decision-making factors that drive female employees to either switch jobs, industries or stay where they are. Then reflect on your company’s ability to accommodate these factors. Are you providing opportunities to advance? Are you allowing a flexible work schedule? Are you recognizing those who have a significant impact on your company’s workforce, efficiency and quality?

step-aheadSomething you can do right away? Nominate the female leaders of your organization for the 2017 STEP Ahead Awards. Nominations are now open and close October 7, 2016.


While all the above suggestions are tangible and will definitely have a positive impact, there is a lot you can do on your own to ensure that your organization is welcoming the female workforce. If you do the following you’ll have a better shot at retaining the women on your team:

  • Professionalism – ensure that the women in your organization are being respected and that the “shop talk” doesn’t cross the line becoming inappropriate. Ask them if they would change anything in their work environment, and address any areas of concern.
  • Promotion – don’t limit the women to the jobs they hold today. Ask them about their aspirations, identify their strengths and how they could continue to add more value to the organization.
  • Compensation – make sure the pay scale is in line with the work performed. More women are assuming the role as “bread winners” and they will be looking for the competitive salary they deserve.
  • Flexibility – work-life balance is something that may carry more weight than any of the others listed above. As long as the work gets done according to your company’s standards and timelines, what does it matter “how” it gets done? Be open-minded and leverage the latest technology to enable a more flexible work environment when appropriate.

Did we miss anything? If you have some ideas to share, please comment below or send us a message. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Social Media Marketing Specialist at Autodesk, managing all manufacturing social channels across multiple platforms and maintaining the Manufacturing Lounge blog site.

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