Skip to main content

How Employers Can Close the Skills Gap by Addressing the Gender Gap

How Employers Can Close the Skills Gap by Addressing the Gender Gap



Manufacturing faces a serious skills gap. This skills gap comes in part from under-representation of women in the industry. That under-representation is not only in the media, popular culture and other online sources, it’s represented in raw data. Women represent nearly half of the total U.S. labor pool, but just over a quarter of the manufacturing workforce.


Often companies struggle with diversity within their organizations. When looked at from the perspective of shareholder value, talent and diversity become very important as they relate to the bottom line. According to a report from The Manufacturing Institute, “research shows companies with more diverse boards yield greater stock market returns adjusted for sector bias, and companies with higher female representation at the board level or in top management exhibit higher returns on equity, higher valuations and higher payout ratios.”


So beyond just playing fair, we know women have their place in manufacturing but how can employers close the gender gap in manufacturing? We have a few tips along with data from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute.


Start By Looking at Your Recruitment Program

In the same report by The Manufacturing Institute, 65 percent of survey respondents say their company does not have an active recruitment program to attract potential female employees. Create a specific strategy around women. Start with the women who do work at your organization. Create a round-table of sorts, and listen to their experience getting hired at your company and in within the manufacturing industry. Don’t have a program for women in manufacturing yet? Now may be the time to start one.


Don’t Overlook Retention

Of the women you do have working for your organization, will they stay? The same study by The Manufacturing Institute (based on a round-table of 600 women in manufacturing) shows that participants ranked opportunities for challenging and interesting assignments, attractive pay and work-life balance as the top three most important priorities. The best way to find out if your employees are getting these opportunities? Address these motivations in a quarterly or bi-yearly review. Specifically ask employees to rate these qualities of their positions. If these priorities are not ranking well, you may need a shift in your own priorities for sake of retention.


Perception of Double Standards May Widen Gap

Two-thirds of survey respondents said there is a double standard. Of those, three-fourths of the women said they believe the standards of performance are higher for them than men. With this double standard in mind, promote on an individual basis. Most women involved in this survey have mixed views of their companies’ efforts in the development of women. Make it apparent that you have intentions of closing the skills gap by addressing the gender gap issues within your company. The best way to do this? Talk about it and be transparent about employees skills and abilities.


Help Build America’s Perception of Women in Manufacturing

Only 12 percent of respondents believe the K-12 school systems actively encourage girls to pursue careers in manufacturing, compared to 53 percent who believe manufacturing is not represented at all. While you can’t change societal norms all on your own, you can help by volunteering to be present in school systems early on. Seem lofty? Think about that recruitment plan. You can choose to actively recruit women in open spaces like community colleges and other campuses. The messages you send to the industry about your desire to hire women, will be seen by not only potential women candidates but other employers outside of manufacturing too.


Questions about hiring women or how your company can close the skills gap by addressing the gender gap? Contact us today!