Did you know that women only make up 43% of the total workforce? As this recent statistic shows, the numbers are even smaller in manufacturing industries, with female employees rarely making it to higher-up leadership positions. This means that women in manufacturing are a massively untapped market, even in the midst of ongoing worker shortages.
This issue was the topic of my recent Mindfulness Manufacturing podcast with Nicole Provonchee, an executive coach and the founder of Bright Blue Consulting. In her coaching, Nicole works with professional women to help them develop and grow the skills they need find even greater success in the workplace. With years of helping women level up in their success, Nicole was able to share some great insights about the common barriers keeping women out of manufacturing and leadership roles.
Barrier #1: Flexibility
Since women also tend to function as the primacy caregivers of their families, flexibility is a major barrier for professional women. Women are more likely to crave more flexibility in their work schedule, which allows them to attend to other functions like driving an elderly parent to a doctor’s appointment or picking up a child from school. When they’re a primary caregiver, they’re also more likely to be burdened with last-minute emergencies, like a sick child. When their jobs are inflexible or unwilling to support their outside-of-work needs and duties, women end up struggling in the workplace.
How To Break Down This Barrier
To better accommodate female employees—or any employee who serves as a primary caregiver—organizations should start a productive dialogue about flexibility. By having conversations about the needs of their female employees, workplace leaders can better understand and implement accommodations, such as shifting an employee’s schedule in the afternoons to give them time to attend to a family duty.
However, it’s important that the employee also retains a sense of accountability. With both sides practicing accountability and by starting dialogues built around fostering productive outcomes, solutions can be found that promote flexibility without hurting productivity.
Barrier #2: Recruiting
Even in female-dominated industries like healthcare, women struggle to rise to leadership roles. This is because women are less likely than men to apply for higher-up jobs, even when they are equally qualified. In general, women will only apply for a role if they meet 60% to 80% of the job criteria, and may self-reject themselves from a role if they fell like they’re not an “expert.” Men, on the other hand, tend to approach job applications with a higher level of confidence and will apply even if they don’t meet all of the criteria.
How To Break Down This Barrier
For organizations, getting more women into leadership roles starts at the recruiting level. They can look at their recruitment tactics to find ways to encourage more women to apply, or make a point of focusing on female applications for higher positions. Male managers or other leaders can also assist female colleagues by encouraging them to apply for higher positions.
In manufacturing and other male-dominated industries, women can also work to become better self-advocates. By practicing confidence and learning to better articulate their workplace needs and goals, women can put in their own work and take their own steps toward seeking a higher positions in their field.
Learn More on the Podcast
Thanks to Nicole Provonchee for sparking this great discussion about barriers to women in the manufacturing industry. To hear more of her sights and learn more, check out the recent podcast.
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