Why the Manufacturing Industry Needs to Close the Gender Gap in Order to Defeat the Skilled Labor Shortage


The manufacturing industry is undergoing a major transformation, and it’s causing a shortage of skilled workers

It’s no surprise to manufacturers — and the companies who rely on them — that there’s a shortage of workers who can fill important production roles. This includes CNC machinists and programmers as well as engineers, scientists, and researchers. The industry needs to fill 4.6 million jobs by 2028, but it’s estimated that nearly half of these jobs will go unfilled. With so many positions sitting vacant, manufacturers are forced to turn down jobs. This could potentially have major economic impacts.

There are several reasons for the manufacturing labor shortage: baby boomers are retiring, younger generations aren’t going into careers in manufacturing at the rate they once did, and the unemployment rate has been dropping for the last decade.

With all that said, there’s one labor shortage cause that often gets ignored in these types of conversations: women in the industry are few and far between.

In this article, we’ll dive into how manufacturers can close the skilled labor gap in manufacturing by first closing the industry’s gender gap.

Test Your Skills: Quickly identify your engineering design strengths and areas for improvement with our skills gap assessment.

Women are one of the U.S. manufacturing industry’s largest pools of untapped talent

Women make up about half of the U.S. population, but only one-quarter of the manufacturing workforce. Additionally, women earn more than half of all associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees and women are employed in more than half of all managerial and professional positions.

With so many qualified female candidates in the U.S., manufacturers need to make it a top priority to win over this part of the population in order to solve their workforce crisis. Unfortunately, the reason 75% of women don’t see a manufacturing career as a viable option for them is because of inaccurate and outdated stereotypes that are still lingering today.

Learn More: Uncover the truths behind the most common manufacturing myths.

How the manufacturing industry can close the gender gap

According to The Manufacturing Institute study, there are a few key strategies manufacturers can deploy to recruit and retain women — from the factory floor to the c-suite.

  1. Improving the perception of manufacturing jobs is critical to attracting talent, especially women since they’ve intentionally and unintentionally been shut out of the industry for so long.
  2. Hire women at all levels of the organization. Representation matters and diversity fosters more diversity.
  3. Identify allies and advocates in the organization and get them on board.
  4. Get involved with local high schools, community colleges, and universities to engage young women as they’re thinking about which career path to take.

Although closing the gender gap in manufacturing will take time, small improvements can make big impacts. Recruiting and retaining women in manufacturing is good for business, so it’s time the entire industry made it a top priority.

Learn More: Discover how you can attract top talent to the manufacturing industry.

This article is part of our #MFGDay19 series! We’re celebrating the manufacturing industry all month. Check out other articles from the series here:

Madie Norris Forcier
About the Author

SolidProfessor content writer and self-appointed World’s Greatest Dog Mom