Rosie the Robotics Programmer: Manufacturing Needs More Women

From leadership roles to skilled positions, the manufacturing sector will be more innovative and profitable when women are better represented in its ranks.

Rosie the Riveter

The image of Rosie the Riveter became famous in the 1940s, representing the can-do spirit of women who stepped up to fill manufacturing jobs as men went off to fight in World War II. You can still see Rosie on the Internet today, re-imagined as a popular meme that honors women unafraid of a challenge.
 
Today, manufacturers need Rosie and her modern counterparts more than ever—and women, in turn, could make tremendous economic and professional gains by aligning their careers with the re-emerging, digitally-transforming manufacturing sector. 
 
Manufacturing is one of the most revved-up engines of the American economy. Over the next decade, manufacturers will need to fill nearly 3½ million jobs—many of which will require highly skilled talent capable of mastering complex digital manufacturing roles. The skills gap is expected to be so wide, that 2 million jobs are projected to go unfilled.(1) Already, 80 percent of manufacturers are reporting a moderate or serious shortage of qualified applicants for skilled and highly-skilled production positions.(2) 
 
Enter women—a still largely untapped talent pool in manufacturing. Despite comprising 47 percent of the US labor force, women account for only 29 percent of the manufacturing workforce.(3) That’s unfortunate because research shows that manufacturing organizations benefit from gender diversity, with a greater ability to innovate, higher return on equity, and increased profitability.(4)
 
The other side of the coin is that women are missing out on some of the most highly-paid and benefits-rich jobs available today. In 2016, the average manufacturing worker in the United States earned $82,023 (5), including pay and benefits.
 
And the work is tremendously exciting. Manufacturing today requires brains not brawn as companies harness digitization, artificial intelligence, robotics, machine learning, and data and analytics to drive greater efficiency, innovation, and productivity growth. 
 
Recently, ManpowerGroup sponsored a summit focused on women and manufacturing—Manufacturing 4.0: How Women Leaders are Shifting the Needle in the Digital Age—to discuss how businesses and individuals can gear up for advanced manufacturing and the path to gender parity. Key goals include encouraging more women to study science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curricula in high school and college; promoting a culture of conscious inclusion in male-dominated STEM fields, such as IT and engineering, to boost female participation; and convincing manufacturers to recruit, train, and upskill female professionals so they can realize their full potential in the business and in their careers.
 
Talent is the true competitive differentiator in business today—especially in the digital manufacturing environment, which will require millions of skilled professionals to make the “factory of the future” a reality. The time is right for manufacturers to seek talent where it resides in great numbers: among women.

 

Sources: 

1. The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing, 2015-2025 Outlook. Deloitte Consulting LLP and the Manufacturing Institute 
2. The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing, 2015-2025 Outlook. Deloitte Consulting LLP and the Manufacturing Institute
3. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016
4. Women in Manufacturing – Stepping Up to Make an Impact That Matters. Deloitte Consulting
5. Top 20 Facts About Manufacturing. National Association of Manufacturers
 

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