Women in Manufacturing: Stepping Up to Make an Impact That Matters Study Released

In April the Manufacturing Institute, Deloitte and APICS released a study, “Women in Manufacturing: Stepping up to make an impact that matters.” The joint study is the result of more than 600 survey responses from women professionals in the manufacturing industry, along with nearly 20 manufacturing executive interviews. The insights point to how companies can effectively recruit, retain and advance talented women in manufacturing, and illustrates ways that women in manufacturing are making an impact in the industry through programs like STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Ahead.

This study confirms the importance of increasing the amount of women in the manufacturing workforce and that many manufacturers are missing a critical talent pool, which could aid in closing the skills gap. Some key highlights from the study include:

  • Nearly three fourths (70 percent) of women indicate they would stay in manufacturing if they were to start their career today;
  • Some of the most important employment characteristics for women in manufacturing include opportunities for challenging and interesting assignments, attractive pay, and work-life balance; and
  • The most impactful programs to help retain women in manufacturing include formal and informal mentorship programs, flexible work practices, and increasing the visibility of key leaders who serve role models.

The study also examines the positive impact of STEP Ahead, reporting insights from former honorees and emerging leaders who indicate STEP Ahead has helped raise the visibility of opportunities for women in the industry, manufacturing opportunities in the community, and opportunities for women within their companies. The STEP Ahead honorees and emerging leaders have reached an estimated 300,000 individuals — from peers in the industry to school age children — as a result of their active industry engagement.

  • Nearly 90 percent indicate they are engaged with individuals to raise the visibility of the industry;
  • 92 percent are engaged in efforts in the development of women; and
  • 70 percent are engaged with K-12 system to encourage young girls and boys to consider careers in manufacturing.

“Our research estimates that the cumulative manufacturing skills gap — or the positions that likely won’t be filled due to a lack of skilled workers — will grow to two million between 2015 and 2025,” said Craig Giffi, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and U.S. automotive practice leader.

“The industry is missing out on a critical talent resource to help advance innovation in manufacturing, increase America’s competitiveness in the global manufacturing landscape and close the skills gap,” added Trina Huelsman, vice chairman, co-author of the research, Deloitte & Touche LLP. “Unleashing the potential of women in manufacturing can reap big rewards. Organizations that make recruitment, retention and advancement of women a strategic priority can bring diverse decision making perspectives, drive innovative and creative solutions and can achieve overall better business performance.”

While there has been an overall positive change in the industry’s attitude toward women employees, women still make up 29 percent of the U.S. manufacturing workforce, while they make up approximately half of the total U.S. labor force*. In an effort to improve this, The Manufacturing Institute is promoting the role of women in manufacturing through mentoring, recognition, research, and leadership with the STEP Ahead initiative.

“Many outstanding women leaders are making huge strides in building and promoting the manufacturing industry and are demonstrating what modern manufacturing offers — rewarding and fulfilling careers with limitless opportunity for growth,” said Jay Timmons, president and CEO, National Association of Manufacturers. “Today’s manufacturing employees are building and designing the future, and women in manufacturing serve as ambassadors to move this industry forward.”

“This study is an important step in understanding how we as an industry can make supply chain careers more attractive to women,” said Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE, APICS chief executive officer. “At APICS, we are dedicated to workforce development initiatives that address the supply chain talent gap. Ensuring more women join the manufacturing workforce and find a path to success is a key part of the solution. We are proud that STEP Ahead honorees include 12 APICS members.”

“Through STEP Ahead, hundreds of women from all levels of manufacturing have been recognized for excellence and leadership in their careers. By telling the real stories of these women, girls will be inspired to familiarize themselves with the industry through our mentorship program and eventually become the next manufacturing leaders,” Institute Assistant Vice President AJ Jorgenson said.

For more information, please visit: www.themanufacturinginstitute.org/women.

About The Manufacturing Institute
The Manufacturing Institute (the Institute) is the 501(c)(3) affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers. As a non-partisan organization, the Institute is committed to delivering leading-edge information and services to the nation’s manufacturers. The Institute is the authority on the attraction, qualification and development of world-class manufacturing talent. For more information, please visit www.themanufacturinginstitute.org.

About Deloitte
Deloitte provides industry-leading audit, consulting, tax and advisory services to many of the world’s most admired brands, including 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and more than 6,000 private and middle market companies. Our people work across more than 20 industry sectors to deliver measurable and lasting results that help reinforce public trust in our capital markets, inspire clients to make their most challenging business decisions with confidence, and help lead the way toward a stronger economy and a healthy society.

About APICS
APICS is the premier professional association for supply chain management and the leading provider of research, education and certification programs that elevate supply chain excellence, innovation and resilience. The APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM), APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), APICS Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD) and APICS Supply Chain Operations Reference Professional (SCOR-P) designations set the industry standard. With over 45,000 members and approximately 300 channel partners, APICS is transforming the way people do business, drive growth and reach global customers. For more information, visit www.apics.org.


* “Employed persons by detailed industry, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity; Labor force statistics from the Current Population Survey,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat18.htm.

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients. In the United States, Deloitte refers to one or more of the US member firms of DTTL, their related entities that operate using the “Deloitte” name in the United States and their respective affiliates. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting. Please see www.deloitte.com about to learn more about our global network of member firms.

The Manufacturing Institute, Deloitte and APICS Release New Study on Women in Manufacturing

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