percent of women in manufacturing

A Push for Gender Diversity in Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry is in need of skilled workers. Employers and organizations across the country are pushing to fill open jobs, with a new focus on increasing gender diversity in the manufacturing workforce and hiring more female workers. Read on to learn more.

Today, women make up almost half of the United States’ labor force. However, women continue to be underrepresented in the manufacturing field. In an industry that consistently ranks among the nation’s top five employers, women make up less than 30 percent of the manufacturing workforce. This means that out of the 11.9 million workers employed in manufacturing today, less than 3.5 million are female.

Manufacturing has long-been an industry that’s dominated by male workers. This is because of outdated assumptions and stereotypes. When many think of manufacturing, they think of the old days of dark and dangerous factory settings. They think of large machinery and a need for big, strong workers. And it’s this pattern of thought that’s kept many women away from the manufacturing force.

The truth is, manufacturing has come a long way in recent decades. Advances in technology – including robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence – have reduced the highly-laborious job requirements and increased the need for smart, skilled workers. Modern manufacturing is a safe, clean, innovative, high-tech, and often sustainable field to break into.

However, there is a labor shortage currently affecting the U.S. manufacturing industry. A recent report showed that American manufacturers will face a looming shortage of 2.4 million workers by the year 2028. The National Association of Manufacturers reported that over 80 percent of manufacturers today struggle with attracting and retaining a quality workforce. 77 percent will also be making this a top priority – addressing the shortage, filling the open jobs, and increasing benefits to retain top talent.

Now is the prime time to enter the manufacturing field. The demand is high, the earning and benefit potential is increasing, and the industry is on the cutting-edge of new developments. If you desire a creative, hands-on career where you can make, manage, and steer modern advancements, consider a manufacturing career.

Addressing the Manufacturing Labor Shortage

While employers are individually creating strategies to attract and retain new workers – such as increasing base salaries, offering sign-on bonuses, and adding paid time off – there are also macro efforts happening to address current hiring needs.

One of these efforts is to close the gender gap in manufacturing.

The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers, dedicated its “35×30” initiative to this push. The campaign is aimed at adding half a million women to the manufacturing industry, increasing women’s representation in manufacturing to 35 percent. Further, the 35×30 initiative will also be focused on changing perceptions of manufacturing, collaborating with manufacturers on strategies to support women throughout their education and retain female talent in the manufacturing workforce.

Between 2022 and 2030, the Institute plans to add half a million women to manufacturing payrolls.

The Manufacturing Institute writes, “The biggest challenge facing manufacturers continues to be the growing workforce crisis. Studies show that manufacturers can close the skills gap by 50% by bringing 10% more women into the industry. Women account for about half of the U.S. labor force but represent less than one-third of the manufacturing workforce.”

President of the Manufacturing Institute, Carolyn Lee, further explained in a March 2022 press release, “For nine months in a row now, manufacturers have had more 800,000 open jobs, and we can’t make meaningful progress toward filling those jobs without closing the gender gap. The 35×30 campaign is an unprecedented plan to strengthen our workforce and build the talent pipeline. We are thrilled to see the industry unite and recognize the power of women in the workforce. This initiative will help many women of all ages find their way into a successful, rewarding career in modern manufacturing.”

The 35×30 initiative was announced on International Women’s Day, 2022.

Increasing Gender Diversity in Manufacturing in Connecticut

While manufacturing makes up 10% of Connecticut’s labor force, with more than 153,000 employees, the state faces the same shortage echoed nationally. As the manufacturing industry advances, and as a record number of baby boomers retire from the workforce, there is a growing demand for new talent.

In a 2021 Manufacturing Report from the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA), nearly nine out of 10 manufacturers (88%) reported difficulty finding and retaining workers. 41% of manufacturers in Connecticut said that the labor shortage was their main obstacle for growth.

As such, the CBIA and Connecticut manufacturers are eager to fill jobs and increase gender diversity in the Connecticut manufacturing industry. Goodwin University is also playing its part.

One goal of ours is to dismantle the myths around manufacturing. Despite what many assume, manufacturing is one of the most innovative and cutting-edge fields you can break into today. It is full of advanced, state-of-the-art technology. It is equipped with clean, green, and automated machines. It is providing the opportunity for thousands of people in Connecticut to fulfill rewarding, hands-on careers creating something new.

And did you know that Connecticut has a booming manufacturing industry?

Connecticut Manufacturing Industry Facts

Connecticut’s official state website highlights manufacturing as a top-growing industry in the state, featuring statistics such as:

  • 92% of Connecticut’s exports come from advanced manufacturing
  • Connecticut is home to 4,400 advanced manufacturing companies
  • Over 1,000 aerospace manufacturers and component firms are in Connecticut
  • Connecticut ranks #4 in the nation for Aerospace & Defense leadership
  • Connecticut is one of only a few states in the country to earn the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) designation
  • Connecticut also ranks #5 in Manufacturing value added index

Additionally, the CBIA 2021 Connecticut Manufacturing Report highlights that:

  • In Connecticut, the average salary for manufacturing workers is $100,662 annually
  • In total, Connecticut manufacturers paid $15.4 billion in worker compensation in 2020
  • Each manufacturing job filled in CT creates 3.4 additional jobs in other parts of the economy

Women Thrive in Manufacturing

With high-tech positions and high salary potential at their fingertips, women can thrive in manufacturing. Manufacturing offers plenty of great career opportunities for women seeking an interesting and innovative career, including positions in leadership, hands-on production, quality management, and more. Here are just some of the many careers that might appeal to you:

  • Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine operator
  • CNC machine programmer
  • Calibration technician
  • Manufacturing quality inspector
  • Maintenance technician
  • Quality auditor
  • Quality consultant
  • Quality management supervisor
  • Facilities supervisor
  • First-line supervisor
  • Inspection supervisor
  • Inventory manager
  • Logistician
  • Purchasing agent
  • Safety supervisor
  • Production controller
  • Production planner
  • Certified production technician

As you can see, modern manufacturing careers do not just require strength – they require dexterity, critical-thinking, teamwork, innovation, and leadership. They require well-rounded individuals who have the ability to think on their feet and work will with others. Women have the potential to fit perfectly into a variety of roles. But all aspiring manufacturers, women and men alike, need training to start.

Because modern manufacturing jobs require great skill, hands-on training and education are necessary to be eligible for many careers. The right manufacturing program can prepare you with the technical skills and career-oriented training needed to apply for jobs and find success.

The good news is, postsecondary manufacturing programs are more attainable than ever. As we push to address the manufacturing labor shortage and increase gender diversity in manufacturing, you will find more accelerated, online, short-term, and flexible training options in colleges and universities.

Goodwin’s Push for Gender Diversity in Manufacturing

At Goodwin University’s manufacturing and machining school, you can find training programs that take only a matter of months to complete. We also partner with manufacturers throughout the state of Connecticut, and can help connect you with prospective employers even before graduation day. Our advanced manufacturing programs include:

  • Manufacturing Management (Bachelor’s Degree)
  • Quality Management Systems (Associate Degree)
  • CNC Machining (Associate Degree or Certificate)
  • Manufacturing and Logistics (Certificate)
  • Mechatronics (Certificate)
  • Welding (Certificate)
  • Certified Production Technician (Credential)
  • Certified Logistics Technician (Credential)
  • Green Manufacturing (Credential)

In addition to our collegiate-level and career-focused programs, Goodwin is also aiming to get younger students interested in professional manufacturing possibilities through our Early College Advanced Manufacturing Pathway (ECAMP™) program. Through this manufacturing program, middle and high schoolers are provided the unique chance to earn up to 37 college credits.

Goodwin University also boasts a diverse student body:

  • 82% of our students are female
  • Almost 70% are 25 years old or older
  • 50% are students of color
  • Over 60% of students have transferred from other schools, often to change career paths

If you are a woman and interested in an exciting career where you can lead a workforce, work with your hands, operate advanced technologies, and direct the production of new goods, manufacturing is calling your name. And if you live in Connecticut, Goodwin University is a perfect place to start your training.

If you are still unsure, hear it from some of Goodwin’s recent manufacturing students:

Amanda Sullivan, AS in Quality Management Systems graduate: “Women can do this job, too. I’m constantly doing new things, and, at the end of the day, it’s rewarding to look at all I’ve accomplished.”

Yesenia Otero, graduate of BS in Manufacturing Management: “[Manufacturing] is not just for men. Women are capable of having physical jobs too…[and] Goodwin prepared me for a position in this field.”

Erin Batra, CNC certificate program graduate and now an aerospace Quality Inspector: “The manufacturing field really surprised me with how fulfilling it can be… I didn’t realize how many doors would open for me, or that there are a variety of interesting jobs with so many ways to grow. I love being a significant step in the creation of parts that help put aircrafts into the air.”

Taylor Perry, Quality Lab Technician at Goodwin: “Usually, when women think about manufacturing, they think about dingy shop floors with heavy machinery, but it’s not like that anymore. The shops here are spotless with high-tech equipment. And, if machining isn’t something you’re interested in, the quality side of manufacturing gives women the chance to work in a lab with high-powered microscopes, and coordinate measurement machines.”

Carole Del Vecchio, an instructor for Goodwin’s welding program, also chimed in, “Manufacturing is an area where women can still be explorers and trailblazers, and the field is waiting for women like you.”

With over 80% of our students being female, and with one of the top manufacturing schools in the state, we can help you get into a manufacturing career you love – and get there fast.

Explore our programs online or request more information here to learn about our various manufacturing programs.