There is far more than just one universal solution to attract more women to the manufacturing sector. Detailed reports highlight how manufacturers need a succession plan for their workforce, and recruiting more women by instilling a supportive work culture can bolster the industry with the top female talent.
Other solutions were discussed at the recent Women in Manufacturing Summit in Dearborn Mich. this week, where a mix of students, first-year engineers, and some senior levels still on the field noted how the landscape for women is improving, but more needs to be done to ensure that women get equal opportunities to men.
As Nancy Cole, the owner of NNC Engineering in Fernandia Beach, Fla., and president of the American Welding Society remarked on the state of welding: “It used to be that welding was 90 percent brawn and 10 percent brain, but by 2020 that will change to 80 percent brain and 20 percent brawn, and women are a strong part of that [equation].” She noted that simple steps like making the lighting brighter for women on the factory floor can project a cleaner and more attractive place for women to work.
WIM Director Allison Grealis (left: Brendan Ross Photographer) noted in a podcast how the third annual summit emphasized sharing stories to help create a better awareness of what are women doing to navigate their careers and dispel the myths of a dark and dirty industry.
Alicia Boler Davis, the SVP Global Quality & Customer Experience at General Motors closed the conference, noted in her session “Building Your Own Style and Personal Brand that while women till make up a small percentage of the automotive industry, they are actually leading influencers in the marketplace (influencing 85 percent of automotive purchases), and noted several strengths that women exhibit in the workforce better than men, including taking more initiative, championing change and displaying a higher level of integrity and honesty.
Some of the suggested solutions to attracting and retaining more women were reflective of the recent U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee report that emphasizes several solutions to help more women excel in industry, including “increasing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education participation and proficiency for girls as early as elementary school, preparing women with the skills and knowledge that are in demand, prepare them for high-tech roles through vocational and community college programs; increase rank of women in leadership roles, and encourage employers to develop mentoring programs so women in all areas of manufacturing have role models to provide guidance.