Post Office Box 4141Covina CA 91723 (626)-373-2710


Offering Solutions

Women in manufacturing still face an uphill battle over gender equality in wages, work conditions, and promotions. However, there is a solution: women empowering women in manufacturing through organization, knowledge, and peer support. WOMEN was created expressly to be part of this solution.

The Gender Gap in Manufacturing Employment

The economic downturn that began in 2008 has had lingering effects. Today, high numbers Americans remain unemployed or severely underemployed. Despite the apparent shortage of jobs, an estimated 300,000 to 600,000 manufacturing jobs in the U.S. have yet to be filled because there are not enough qualified workers to fill them. These unfilled positions are making the U.S. economically less competitive on the global front.

Economists and job development specialists point out that many of these positions could be filled if American workers, both men and women, had better access to education and training for employment in the manufacturing industry. In response to growing demand for a well-trained workforce, many community colleges and trade schools are increasingly offering coursework and hands-on training for manufacturing jobs of the 21st century.

As the manufacturing industry continues to grow, some workers, young and older, are taking advantage of new educational opportunities. Yet the number of women working in manufacturing has not significantly increased over the last decade. Women currently make up about half of all workers in the U.S., but they account for only 27% of the manufacturing labor force. Some studies suggest that females are less prepared to enter the manufacturing sector because girls and young women are not encouraged to take classes in STEM -- science, technology, engineering, and math -- in school. Historically, the bias against women in science has persisted throughout their academic education, from elementary school through high school or college, and on into the job market.

Another obstacle to women embracing manufacturing is the outdated and inaccurate perception that jobs in this field involve unskilled and physically demanding work. Most importantly, relatively few women in manufacturing have been able to successfully climb the corporate ladder. Why, then, should women pursue careers in manufacturing? The

re are several reasons why manufacturing can be personally and professionally rewarding for women. Manufacturing represents more than 10% of the U.S. economy and almost 70% of the nation's research and development investments. The estimated 14 million people employed in manufacturing jobs receive salaries and benefits well above the national average. The pay for women working in high-growth fields such as manufacturing and engineering is on average 33% higher than in many other sectors. A relatively high percentage of the jobs emerging in manufacturing pay six-figure salaries.

Manufacturing has changed dramatically over the last few years, and stereotypes of workers laboring intensely in a dirty factory are unfounded. Amid increasing globalization, manufacturing companies that once relied on the traditional assembly line must now depend on precision machinery, computer modeling and high-tech tooling to stay competitive in both the U.S. and the world. Unfortunately, American high school and in some cases even college graduates overall are unprepared for the new high-tech positions in manufacturing.

According to many experts, closing the gender gap in manufacturing will require multiple interventions that tackle the root of the problem at it core. One of the most obvious, but longer-term, solutions is to start training all U.S. students in advanced science, math, and technology. Girls and adolescent females, in particular, deserve to be exposed to well-formulated science curricula in order to compensate for their traditional lack of STEM education.

More immediate solutions must involve the cooperation of industry leaders, including the CEOs and executive managers in the manufacturing sector, to help implement women-friendly policies in the workplace. Some businesses, often in partnerships with community colleges, are developing innovative educational courses and hands-on training programs for machinists, welders, industrial maintenance workers, and other manufacturing specialists. In an effort to create national standards in competence, the Manufacturing Institute, a non-profit research center affiliated with the National Association of Manufacturers, is designing industry-backed training programs in various fields within manufacturing. The graduates of these programs will have nationally recognized, portable skills that they can use in different regions of the U.S.

Some experts also advise establishing a national, online skills database to connect students and prospective students, community colleges, and manufacturing employers. While a nationwide database may take time to develop, independent nonprofit organizations such as WOMEN can play a vital role in linking these target groups. WOMEN is currently launching an innovative online manufacturing network for women where job seekers and employers can easily connect with each other.

This service will help link women seeking careers in manufacturing with appropriate training programs at community colleges or nonprofit institutions, or with on-the-job training at businesses. Similarly, women with experience in manufacturing can connect with companies interested in hiring qualified women or, in some cases, providing them with additional skills to advance their careers.

Businesses interested in posting new job opportunities, with or without training, especially for women should contact the WOMEN corporate office at 626-373-2710.


Haass, R. & Kleinfeld, K. Column: Lack of skilled employees hurting manufacturing USA Today Opinion. 7/3/12. Retrieved on 11/20/13 from

Precision Group. Women in manufacturing: The gap grows. Retrieved on 11/21/13 from

Schilling, N. The Coming Rise Of Women In Manufacturing. Forbes Woman. 9/20/2013. Retrieved on 11/20/13

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Women Of ManufacturingEmpowering Network
Post Office Box 4141 | Covina, CA 91723
(626)-373-2710 |