The manufacturing sector faces a critical challenge: a talent shortage. While this is a global issue, here in the EU, it’s particularly concerning. Yet, a vast, underutilized pool of talent is waiting to be discovered – women. Hint – we are about 50% of the world’s population.

Author Lisa Hellqvist

Photo: Freepik

Traditionally, manufacturing has been a male-dominated field. Statistics show this imbalance:

  • Only around 30% of the EU manufacturing workforce is female [World Manufacturing Foundation].
  • Across all industries, just 9% of CEOs are women [World Economic Forum].

This lack of female representation creates a significant missed opportunity. Studies consistently show that diversity in the workplace leads to better outcomes.

Why Gender Equality Matters in Manufacturing

  • Innovation and Problem-Solving: Research suggests that diverse teams are more innovative and better at problem-solving [McKinsey & Company]. Women bring different perspectives and approaches to the table, leading to a richer pool of ideas.
  • Financial Performance: Companies with a strong track record of diversity outperform their less diverse peers financially [Credit Suisse].
  • Employee Satisfaction: A more inclusive workplace fosters a sense of belonging and satisfaction for all employees, leading to higher retention rates.

Attracting Women to Manufacturing: Beyond the Stereotypes

Manufacturing today is a far cry from the traditional factories of the past. It’s a high-tech, dynamic industry that offers exciting careers in areas like automation, robotics, and 3D printing.

So, what can manufacturing companies do to attract more women?

  • Challenge the Perception: Promote manufacturing as a modern, rewarding career path for women through targeted campaigns and outreach programs.
  • Work-Life Balance: Offer flexible work arrangements, childcare support, and other programs that cater to the needs of working parents.
  • Mentorship and Role Models: Highlight successful women in manufacturing leadership positions to inspire the next generation.

The Pipeline is Growing: Women in Engineering

There’s positive news on the horizon. Across the EU, the number of women graduating with engineering degrees is steadily increasing. While the exact figures may vary by country, a report by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education and Culture highlights this upward trend. This suggests a future with a more balanced talent pool entering the manufacturing sector.

International Women’s Day should be every day, but if nothing else, it is a time to celebrate the achievements of women and advocate for a more inclusive future. By embracing balance, the manufacturing sector can unlock its full potential and thrive in the years to come. 

It’s a win-win for businesses, the economy, and talented women seeking fulfilling careers.

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