Women Vastly Underrepresented in Manufacturing Jobs, Says Article

Not only are construction firms having trouble filling hourly worker positions, but according to a recent Forbes article, manufacturers in the U.S. are also having a hard time recruiting workers -- women specifically -- to fill the growing demand for machinists, welders, computer-controlled machine operators and other key positions.

Women represent 51.4% of adults in the U.S., yet only 7% hold middle-skilled manufacturing jobs.

"In a gender-neutral world, the absence of women in middle-skilled factory jobs might cause recruitment-conscious business leaders to do some soul-searching about why women don’t work for them," Madeline Janis, executive director of Jobs to Move America, writes. "After all, middle skilled manufacturing jobs pay better and have better benefits than jobs in the service sector, where many women work."

According to several reports, women encounter hostile conditions in factories where they are trailblazers representing a small percentage of the workforce, which often leads to circumstances in which they are more likely to be the targets of harassment and less likely to report it.  

However, some employers and unions are working towards creating a safer environment for women in American factories. Unions at Ford and Chrysler were among the first to include a clause in their contracts allowing members to file a grievance if sexual harassment occurs. The Ironworkers Union now offers six months paid maternity leave. And the Jane Addams Resource Center in Chicago created a special recruitment program for women in manufacturing and increased participation in their careers program to 20%.

While a few other organizations have followed suit, there is still a huge opportunity for other companies to join and implement a new narrative.

"Manufacturers’ bottom line will appreciate it because talent is talent, regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation," Janis writes.