As an American manufacturer and a family-owned business, we are always looking for ways to support the future of not only our company but other American manufacturers. We know the impact of STEM education on today's youth and often provide tours for high school and college students that are interested in careers in STEM related fields. And on Manufacturing Day, we bring students in with their educators to discuss the opportunities available and give them a close up look at what it's like to work for a highly automated manufacturer. It's wonderful to see their eyes light up as we tour them through our automated facility while they ask questions about our machinery, robotics, plastic processes and more. Most of the students that come for these tours are young men.
So, what can we do to help guide the women who are interested in a career in manufacturing or STEM? To start, lets take a look at what leading organizations are doing to help close the gender gap and "solve the equation."
The Manufacturing Institute, APICS, and Deloitte recently surveyed more than 600 women in manufacturing and conducted executive interviews to explore how effectively manufacturing companies are attracting, recruiting, and retaining women, and what should be done to close the gender gap. According to the study "many schools and the manufacturing industry have upped their game over the last two years, and women are noticing."
- 29 percent of women in 2017 (compared to 12 percent in 2015) think the school system actively/somewhat encourages female students to pursue a career in the manufacturing industry
- 42 percent of women in 2017 (compared to 24 percent in 2015) are now ready to encourage their daughter or female family member to pursue a career in their industry
- More than half of women (58 percent) have observed marked or some positive changes in their industry’s attitude towards female professional employees, over the last five years
To learn more about this study, download it here.
The Manufacturing Institute also launched their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Production (STEP) Ahead initiative in 2012 to showcase the impact of women in manufacturing to help attract and retain the talent the industry needs to succeed. According to their website, "The STEP Ahead Awards highlight the achievements of real women in manufacturing on a national stage with a formal gala to celebrate their accomplishments and further encourages women to mentor and support the next generation of female talent to pursue manufacturing careers. "
Their initiatives have made a difference, impacting more than 300,000 individuals, from peers in the industry to school-age children. They have honored 672 women who are making a difference in their companies and communities and plan to continue to forge ahead in 2018. Learn more about the STEP Awards here.
Solving the Equation
The American Association for University Women (AAUW) is the nation’s leading voice promoting equity and education for women and girls. A few years ago, they created a report titled Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing that delved into the engineering and computing fields, two STEM fields where there are plenty of available jobs but few that are being filled by women.
“By 2022, the United States will need 1.7 million more engineers and computing professionals. Women — who make up more than half the population — are still significantly underrepresented in these fields. And women’s intellect and voices need to be a part of the technologies and products created by these fields. We know how to solve this equation,” said AAUW Executive Director and CEO Linda D. Hallman, CAE.
In 1990, 35% of computing jobs were filled by women. By 2013, that number decreased to only 26%. Women in engineering fell from an already low 12% to just 9%. In 2016, that number rose to only 11%. To understand the factors impacting these trends. The report concentrates on areas such as:
- Combating stereotypes and biases
- Changing the environment
- Preparing K-12 students for engineering and computing
- Training for the workforce
- Structural and cultural barriers
- Women and communal values
The infographic below from AAUW highlights why there are still so few women in engineering and computing fields. The good news is that more than ever before, young girls and women are interested in these technical careers.
Everyone can encourage girls and young women to enter fields such as engineering and computing and help transform these STEM fields into places where more women will thrive.