Is the Number of Female Graduates Impacting the Gender Gap in Manufacturing?

Earlier this year, we highlighted the decreasing number of women in manufacturing. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) featured a story about the gender gap in manufacturing stating that the percentage of women in manufacturing has dropped from 32% in the 90's to 27%.

At that time, we found that there are about twice as many men in the manufacturing candidate supply as women, which still holds true, according to WANTED Analytics data. Since the publication of that article, we released our Graduate Data, which shows how many graduating candidates are likely to enter the workforce in 2014 and what the gender and ethnic breakdown is of that class. Do recent enrollment numbers have the potential to tip the scales and add more women to the manufacturing sector?

To gain some insight into the potential of increased gender diversity in manufacturing, we looked at the jobs that are most required by companies in the manufacturing sector and how many male and female students will be entering the workforce in each profession.

Industrial Engineers

Currently, there are about 15,871 job openings for Industrial Engineers in manufacturing and about 182,000 qualified candidates in the employable US workforce. About 18% of those candidates are female. Of the most recent graduating class, about the same percent of female Industrial Engineers are entering the workforce. This number needs to be higher to maintain the percent of women in industrial engineering roles in the manufacturing sector. It is likely that some of the graduating students with the desired qualifications may take positions in other industries, decreasing the number of women entering engineering jobs in manufacturing.

Graduating Candidate Supply of Industrial Engineers by Gender and Ethnicity

Source: WANTED Analytics

First Line Supervisors of Production and Operating Workers

About 560,000 candidates exist in the US workforce that are qualified for First Line Supervisors of Production and Operating Worker jobs in manufacturing. About the same percentage of female Industrial Engineers, 18%, are currently employed in this profession in manufacturing. However, unlike Industrial Engineers, the number of women entering the workforce into this field is promising. There is a higher percentage of females earning degrees in operations management and supervision, about 27%. Yet, this is still a long way to go to close the perceived gender gap in this position in manufacturing.

Graduating Candidate Supply of First Line Supervisors of Production and Operating Workers by Gender and Ethnicity

Source: WANTED Analytics

Marketing Managers

There are about 30,000 Marketing Managers in manufacturing in the US workforce for about 8,540 current job openings. Of the professions listed, this occupation has the highest number of female workers, 43%. The latest graduating class is altering the gender divide in this field. More women graduated with degrees in Marketing than men, 54% female and 45% male.

Graduating Candidate Supply for Marketing Managers by Gender and Ethnicity

Source: WANTED Analytics

In the near future, the number of women in manufacturing can potentially increase in particular fields, like Marketing. However, the gender disparity still remains in technical and management jobs. Efforts to decrease the gender gap could begin earlier in a candidate's life. If you're focusing on diversity initiatives, you may want to consider developing programs with nearby high schools and colleges to interest young females in a job in your industry and with your company. In high school, teens are deciding what field to get into, sometimes without adequate information and resources backing their decision. By influencing students at a younger age, you can inspire their career path and increase your talent pipeline. You can also look to set up recruitment programs with colleges that have a higher number of graduating students in your field. Talk to students who will be graduating soon to get them interested in a career in manufacturing and to deter them from entering another field. You can also speak to freshman who haven't yet picked a major or aren't set in their choice. Freshman can change their majors without missing much coursework.

How else do you think the gender gap in manufacturing can be reduced? Let us know in the comments!

Views: 66

Comment by Keith Halperin on April 24, 2014 at 12:46pm

Thanks, Ashley. ISTm that except for the IEs mentioned, most jobs in mfg. don't require a college degree (just look at "How It's Made"), and since a greater percentage of college graduates now are women than men, perhaps this partially contributes to the imbalance.


Comment by Ashley Zito Rowe on April 24, 2014 at 1:55pm

Hi Keith, Thanks for your insight. I'll have to look further into that. That might be a whole other blog topic. 

Comment by Keith Halperin on April 24, 2014 at 6:30pm

You're very welcome, Ashley. I find your columns quite useful.



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