Recruiting More Women into Manufacturing

Women make up nearly half of the working population, but they remain underrepresented in manufacturing. According to recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women account for more than 57% of the overall workforce but only about 29% of the manufacturing workforce, a statistic that’s been largely unchanged for years. Addressing this gender disparity can benefit manufacturers in several ways, including improved innovation, creativity, and profitability, while addressing workforce shortage issues.

But attracting female employees may require changes to the way companies traditionally recruit and train workers. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Start early—Change young girls’ perceptions of manufacturing careers by showing what working in manufacturing is really like. Provide plant tours to students. Participate in school career day events. Partner with schools on STEM projects that are fun, interactive, and meaningful.
  •  Be inclusive—Give examples of women in all kinds of positions including leadership roles in all company materials like job announcements, workplace posters, brochures, websites, and promotional materials.
  • Offer internships—Offer a hands-on experience to help female students get first-hand experience in manufacturing settings.
  • Get their attention—Create job descriptions that do more than list duties and responsibilities. Find a unique aspect of the work and use that to get the attention of applicants. For example, a company that makes medical equipment could emphasize its role in improving or saving lives.
  • Create connections—Set up an onboarding system that supports new employees by matching them with someone who does a similar job. Check monthly to see how onboarding is progressing.

Anything you can do to attract a larger number of potential workers will increase the number of female applicants. For example, if your company offers a climate-controlled environment, make sure to emphasize that. Also consider the benefits you offer and how those might appeal to workers. Studies show that flexible schedules and childcare assistance are important to female applicants. If you are able to offer that, make it clear in your advertising and promotional materials.

For more information, contact Pamela Lane at or 515-567-0687.