Survey Respondents Recommend Manufacturing Jobs to Women

Survey Respondents Recommend Manufacturing Jobs to Women
Digital Exclusive

Manufacturing is a solid career path for women, according to 81% of survey respondents who say they would recommend the career to women.

And that advice will become increasingly important as companies face labor shortages: 83% of survey respondents also report that they continue to experience significant issues finding workers, with industrial mechanics, maintenance technicians, and engineers among the hardest roles to fill, according to the Career Advancement for Manufacturing Report produced by the Women in Manufacturing Association (WiM) and Xometry, a digital marketplace that uses artificial intelligence to connect buyers with suppliers of manufacturing services worldwide.

“This report is foundational for our members as it provides critical data and insights into the unique challenges and opportunities women face in manufacturing,” says Allison Grealis, president and founder of WiM. “It informs our advocacy efforts, helping us push for necessary changes and support systems that can make a real difference in the professional lives of our members.”

The report, which surveyed nearly 1,000 suppliers and industry professionals in North America, was the fourth collaboration between WiM and Xometry, says Kathy Mayerhofer, Xometry’s chief sales officer.

Other key findings included:

  • 90% of women think that diversity improves business outcomes. “It’s not just about recruiting women—it’s also about ensuring women’s voices are heard at every level of an organization,” the report says.
  • 71% of women enter the manufacturing industry unintentionally, compared with 56% of men. “Most women report joining the industry through job postings, co-op programs, and recruitment, whereas most men join the industry through family businesses, apprenticeships or internships, and STEM programs,” the report says.

“More participation of women in STEM in particular and industry at large can solve the significant labor shortages that continue to persist in manufacturing today,” Mayerhofer says. “Manufacturing is a high-tech industry and presents more entrepreneurial and leadership opportunities for women than ever before.”

In her role as the leader of WiM, Grealis says she is committed to empowering women in the manufacturing sector—and the report helps those efforts.

“Our members can leverage this report to identify areas for professional growth, advocate for necessary changes within their workplaces, and use the data provided to champion diversity and inclusion initiatives,” she says. “It’s a pivotal resource for guiding career development strategies and for companies to realize the benefits of a diverse workforce.”

Other Findings in the WiM Report

The WiM/Xometry report, which was released in early 2024, was based on surveys where 997 responses qualified for the report. And 83% of those who responded were female.

About 79% of women are optimistic about women’s progress in manufacturing.

“Collectively, the data shows that women may not intentionally choose manufacturing as their field of choice, but once they are in, they are satisfied or very satisfied with their careers and are a voice for change,” the report says.

To the question about recommending a career in manufacturing, the 2024 report shows that 2% of women are unlikely to do so, which is a decrease from the 8% who would not recommend a manufacturing career in 2023.

The report also says that the percentage of female business leaders in manufacturing—about 23%—has not significantly changed since 2021. And the overall number of women in manufacturing—about 30%—hasn’t significantly changed, either.

As for retention, employees value health insurance and flexible work schedules the most.

“Among the most significant insights are the persistent barriers that hinder women’s entry and progression in the field,” Grealis says. “Recognizing these helps us to tailor our programs more effectively. Additionally, the report highlights the economic benefits of increasing gender diversity in manufacturing roles, which is critical for driving innovation and improving competitive advantage in the sector.”

More Work Ahead

WiM, which traces its roots to 2010, has more than 26,000 members who represent more than 2,800 manufacturing companies worldwide, according to its website.

“We firmly believe in the transformative power of women to drive the manufacturing industry forward,” Grealis also says. “This survey continues to validate the notion that women play a pivotal role in the industry, and it is imperative to redouble our efforts in attracting and engaging more women in manufacturing to foster enduring change and fortify the industry’s resilience.”

Mayerhofer says more annual reports will be conducted, with the results from surveys in 2024 being released in the first quarter of 2025.

As a side note, WiM has a Women in Manufacturing Hall of Fame that includes two women who work for Avery Dennison, which is a member of the Flexible Packaging Association, according to the organization’s website.

Thomas A. Barstow is senior editor of FlexPack VOICE®.