International Women’s Day: Women working in manufacturing

As a result of deep-rooted societal gender stereotypes, women’s strengths and abilities have often been overlooked and underappreciated within the manufacturing sector. The team at GEM Cable value diversity and proactively ensure that our business has prominent female representation and that our female team members are fully supported and motivated to reach their full potential within the industry.

Female empowerment within businesses has been shown to increase productivity as well as economic growth. However, despite these facts, women continue to represent a substantial minority within the manufacturing industry. Historically, men tend to occupy higher skilled and higher paid engineering jobs which in turn, has resulted in a clear gender pay gap when it comes to the majority of manufacturing firms who employ women – making up less than 25% of the industry’s workforce.

The perception of the manufacturing industry as a male-heavy sector dates back years and is one of the main reasons why women may not be attracted to pursuing an engineering career. The best way to overcome this barrier and to create a fairer playing field, is through education. By showing women from a young age that they have the opportunity to develop a career in manufacturing we can begin to foster a mentality that inspires and encourages women to explore their career options fully. Currently, only 35% of 16-year-old girls decide on maths, physics, computing or technical vocational qualifications in comparison to 94% of boys. At school, girls should also be encouraged to study STEM subjects to reduce the gender imbalance in STEM students, graduates and later, professionals.

A great way that this can be done is by highlighting female industry leaders as well as women who actively contribute to the growth and development of the industry. Introducing children to the work of female STEM role models is an important way to inspire girls and young women when considering STEM careers. There are many campaigns aimed to promote and encourage women into STEM subjects by breaking down gender stereotypes such as, Women in STEM, Tech She Can & WISE. These campaigns play a vital role in bridging the gender gap, but businesses also need to play their part. Investing more in educating young women now will help the future of the industry – ensuring it keeps fostering a diverse and eclectic talent pool for STEM companies.           

Other ways in which manufacturing organisations can proactively increase female representation include tailoring their recruitment strategy to attract more female applicants; through advertising vacancies on websites such as ‘Where Women Work’. It is vital that employers understand that they need to concentrate their efforts not solely on hiring women, but also working actively to retain them. Examples of ways in which businesses have done this is by monitoring salaries or offering flexible working hours. It is also important to consider not only the number of women working in manufacturing, but at what level and position. Women make up only 19.2% of the top pay quartile, according to Gender Pay Gap Reporting, with the majority of women within the lowest pay bracket.

This does not mean that there aren’t women occupying management positions in the industry! At GEM Cable, Sinead is our director and represents 50% of the leadership of our entire company. Sarah was chosen as our apprentice last year and is due to complete her Businesses Apprenticeship at GEM Cable Solutions in 2022. Plus, Zaneta and Julie also make up part of our Skilled Production Engineers and Nikki is the GEM Cable manager who heads up the HR team. As a business, GEM Cable are proud to support women in manufacturing with all types of skillsets and at all levels. Diversity remains one of our core values and we are continuously looking for ways in which we can support and guide our female employees to reach their career goals and ambitions. In the UK, we believe things are starting to look more promising as the number of women working in core STEM occupations surpassed one million last year, and the number of women working in technical engineering positions has nearly doubled in the last decade.

Find out about the work GEM Cable are doing to help to eliminate period poverty in Britain by ensuring that all women have access to sanitary protection.