When it comes to accounting for women in manufacturing, the unfortunate news is that although women account for nearly half of the U.S. workforce, they hold less than a third of the nation’s 12.2 million manufacturing jobs, according to the to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


The good news, however, is that as companies face a growth in U.S. manufacturing and Baby Boomers continue to retire, companies such as Harley Davidson Motor Co., Illinois Tool Works and Essve Tech, among others, are actively recruiting women to fill the labor shortage, reports an article in Chief Executive.


Other good news comes from the results of a survey conducted last fall by accounting firm Plante Moran and Women in Manufacturing, a trade group comprised of roughly 500 women executives “dedicated to attracting, retaining and advancing women in the manufacturing sector,” the Chief Executive article explains. Young women responding to the survey who were just starting their careers ranked compensation as the most important factor they were considering, followed closely by finding work that was interesting and challenging. At the same time, more than 80 percent of women respondents who are already working in the manufacturing sector said their work was interesting and challenging, and half said that compensation was “the most significant benefit.”


Interestingly, nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of the experienced women workers said they believe the sector offers multiple career paths for women, and more than half of the respondents said the sector is a leading industry for job growth for women. What’s more, 64 percent of the respondents said they would recommend a career in manufacturing to a young woman.


The survey results aren’t all cheery, and they do point out that considerable work needs to be done to continue recruiting women to manufacturing and the supply chain. For example, less than half of the young women surveyed believe that manufacturing offers the interesting and challenging work they’re seeking. Furthermore, less than 10 percent of the young women placed manufacturing among the top five career fields they believe offer the most opportunity for young women today, the Chief Executive article relates.


“On the whole, these survey results should be seen as a call to action in a space where there is great opportunity,” WiM Director Allison Grealis says. “When we know what young women are looking for in careers, we are in a better position to demonstrate how manufacturing can help them meet their aspirations. We have long known that women are good for manufacturing; and these survey results go a long way to showing that manufacturing is good for women too.”


Part of the problem is that the supply chain still suffers from an image problem. For example, when people outside of the industry think of the supply chain, they think trucking and warehouse activities, says Corrie Banks, founder and president of Calgary-based Triskele Logistics, in a recent Industrial Distribution article. When people think manufacturing, they think of a male-centric role, she says.


“We need for people to think differently,” Banks says in the article. “There’s a lot of management and supervisory roles. Not everything is about picking in a warehouse and driving a forklift.”


What are your thoughts on the lack of women in supply chain? Do you agree the supply chain as an industry suffers from an image problem? If so, what needs to be done to address the issue?