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The Gender Gap: Women Fill Only 33% of Manufacturing Industry Jobs, 26% of Industry Leadership Positions

This press release was issued on December 8, 2020 via Business Wire at 9:30 am

The Gender Gap: Women Fill Only 33% of Manufacturing Industry Jobs, 26% of Industry Leadership Positions

New Study from Thomas and WiM Reveals Challenges and Potential Solutions for Women’s Advancement in the Manufacturing Industry Through Recruitment and Retention of Female Talent 

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New York (December 8, 2020) –Thomas, the leader in product sourcing, supplier selection, and marketing solutions for industry, today released the results of its benchmark survey in partnership with the Women in Manufacturing Association (WiM). The survey examined 465 industry professionals to determine workplace trends in the manufacturing, industrial, and related sectors to glean insights into bridging the gender gap, addressing the “glass ceiling,” and better informing diversity and inclusion practices within industry.  

The survey found that only 1 in 3 manufacturing professionals and 1 in 4 manufacturing leaders are women. While the Medical/Healthcare sector has the highest female-identifying employee presence (54%), the industries with the lowest representation include the Automotive (29%), Energy, Utilities, Oil & Gas (28%), and Aerospace & Defense (24%) sectors. 

Additionally, the survey found that, overall, 62% of female respondents report that they ‘somewhat agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that women have made significant progress in the manufacturing industry over the last 5 years. And, the majority of men and women in the manufacturing industry today are optimistic about the future of women in the sector.

"We're thrilled to work with WiM to shed light on the results of this benchmark study, further underscoring the importance of recruiting, training, and supporting women in industry to help better address the skills gap and improve diversity in the workforce,” said Tony Uphoff, Thomas president & CEO. "We look forward to further supporting WiM’s efforts to share best practices and resources for professionals across the industrial sector to help drive industry forward in its inclusivity efforts.”

Additional key findings include:

  • Addressing the Glass Ceiling: More than half the women (65%) surveyed report that they ‘mostly agree’ or ‘completely agree’ that their company values their contributions, compared to 77% of men. However, only 27% of women report they feel strongly about their personal career advancement opportunities, compared to 40% of male respondents. 
  • Women in Leadership: The industries with the largest percentage of women in leadership positions include Medical/Healthcare (43%), Food & Beverage (30%), and General Manufacturing (29%). Female leadership progress is particularly lacking in the sectors of Agriculture (17%), Aerospace and Defense (18%), and Automotive (19%). 
  • Benefits and Programs: 48% of respondents report they are not aware of or do not have a diversity or inclusion program at their company. Additionally, 74% of individuals surveyed report that their company offers paid maternity leave. When asked about specific employee benefits they would like to receive, 93% of female respondents cite on-site child care and 26% say paid maternity leave. 
  • Solutions to Bridging the Gender Gap: 31% of respondents say associations are the most helpful resource for women in manufacturing. Relatedly, 27% say mentorships are the most helpful solution to advancing women in manufacturing; mentorships were also highlighted as the most popular type of training program offered by companies. In addition, 43% of women report they have a mentor compared to only 29% of men. With regards to upcoming advancements of women in manufacturing, the Medical/Healthcare and Agriculture sectors reported being the most optimistic.

“At WiM, one of our most important goals is to promote the empowerment and professional development of women in the manufacturing industry by providing best practices for companies and training and tools for individuals,” said Allison Grealis, president of WiM and the WiM Education Foundation. “We are delighted to partner with Thomas on this important research to identify ways in which our industry can continue to be a good place for women to build success and hope that this survey serves as a springboard to stimulate larger conversations and ongoing initiatives.” 

The study was conducted online using Qualtrics. The survey examined 465 North American suppliers and industry professionals, with company revenues spanning from less than $4.9 million to more than $1 billion. Click here to get a copy of the Women in Manufacturing Benchmark Study. 

About Thomas
Thomas provides actionable information, data, analysis and tools that align with and support
today’s industrial buying process. Its solutions include the Thomas Network at Thomasnet.com® ,
industry’s largest and most active buyer/supplier network. Through Thomas Marketing Services,
the company provides full-service industrial marketing programs and website development.
Thomas Product Data Solutions helps manufacturers connect with design engineers through
advanced CAD/BIM and data syndication services. Thomas Industrial Data supplies sourcing
and supply chain trend data to media, investors, analysts, and researchers to provide market
insight and inform decision making. Thomas WebTrax® provides opportunity intelligence on in-
market buyers to help marketing and sales teams track, identify, and engage high-value
prospects. Thomas Insights delivers original content to help marketers and supply chain
professionals inform their decision-making, through leading titles including Inbound Logistics®,
Thomas Industry Update, Industrial Equipment News® (IEN®), and the Thomas Index™.

About WiM
Women in Manufacturing® (WiM) is the only national trade association dedicated to providing year-round support to women who have chosen a career in the manufacturing industry. At present, more than 5,300 individual members representing nearly 1,000 manufacturing companies have joined our growing ranks of industry professionals. WiM encompasses manufacturers of all types and welcomes individuals from every job function – from production to the C-Suite. Membership is available to women and men working within the manufacturing sector. For more information about WiM, www.womeninmanufacturing.org


Media - Alex Kofsky



Rita Lieberman



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