The undiscovered talent pool – As we celebrate International Women’s Day it is time to give more deserved attention to the specific topic of women in the industrial sector and the way they are climbing the latter of a mostly male-dominated field. There are many reasons to discover more about these trailblazers.

Author Iva Danilovic | Copperberg

Throughout history, women were mostly discouraged or forbidden to enter the industry. As successful female STEM scientists and inventors have shown us, this has been a hugely underrated potential that waited to be discovered.

Researchers have revealed that gender diversity benefits a manufacturing organization through improved ability to innovate, a higher return on equity, and increased profitability [1]. Still, a large majority of manufacturing organizations have less than 10% of women in managerial roles in their workforce, a recent Copperberg report shows.

This is the reason why we asked the women in manufacturing to share their insights: What do they think, why are there so few women in managerial positions in the industrial sector? This is what we’ve heard from them:

To begin, women still have to carry on with most of the family work.  “Probably one of the key factors preventing women reaching decision-making positions is in company cultures that require “anytime, anywhere” availability disproportionately affect women, relative to their household and family responsibilities,” says Olga Litvinchuk, CRC Division Director at Zeppelin Ukraine.

Her peer Cristina Peña Andrés, Group Parts Manager at Alimak Service from Spain, agrees:

  • I am not a guru about why women are taking more or less management positions in the industry but sure, one key factor is their own family decisions in their close ecosystem.

The high tempo of the management roles across industries and the requirement to be constantly concentrated on the job rather than the family needs is something that prevents more and more women from climbing the corporate ladder. This puts women in front of a hard choice:

“Women will sometimes decide to stop their professional growth for taking care of children. They cannot go back to the professional growth exactly as men due to the different experience length… Men are considered more reliable as women will take care of family as their first priority, rather than work”, says Veronica de la Torre Diaz, Senior Program Manager at Thyssenkrupp Elevator.

Among the many answers that we have received, interviewees frequently pointed out the set of cultural factors as being the dominant ones when it comes to defining who can be considered as a suitable option for taking leading management positions. Olga Litvinchuk comments:

    • The main disadvantage women have is the culture. It’s a fact: in most countries, women’s skills and abilities are minimized, tagging them as less suitable for management positions. Culture can’t be changed so quickly; we are all involved. 

It takes time for changes to take place in both society and business culture. However, some high achieving women in the industry expect that the shift is about to happen in the near future, as some of them aim to change current practices.

This is what Duygu Seker, Global Vice President of Business Unite Spare Parts for Manitou Group, thinks and acts accordingly, “This will change much faster in this new Era, going forward. To contribute to this change, I do coaching and mentoring to men and women leaders.

Indeed, one of the things that women must do if they want to step out and try to reconcile all activities that are placed in front of them is to prioritize working on the needed skills.

During the last couple of years much has been written about the manufacturing sector and the problem of skills and talent shortage it is facing. A transformation of manufacturing in the Industry 4.0 demands a new generation of agile, innovative and educated workforce that can embrace challenges of the industrial revolution, and see its way through it.

“What women can do is to embrace that and start doing something to improve and develop the necessary competencies”, concludes Olga Litvinchuk.

It is important to note that educated and competent women create an undiscovered talent pool that has the potential to fuel the manufacturing industry of tomorrow. Todays’ 10% of the female managers in service are just the beginning.

To find out more about women in service and how they can start and develop a successful career in the field service read the next articles in the series The Voice of Women in Service.

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