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Globalization Presents a Challenge for Women Seeking to Rise in Manufacturing

Posted By Jeff Moad, September 20, 2013 at 3:58 PM, in Category: Next-Generation Leadership and the Changing Workforce

It’s never been easy for women seeking to rise to leadership roles in manufacturing. Manufacturing, in many respects, has been a male-dominated culture, and women say they struggle to find role models and mentors.

But globalization and widespread outsourcing is presenting a new set of challenges for women in manufacturing. On a recent Manufacturing Leadership Council TeleConnect conference call discussion about “Women in Manufacturing: The Power of Diversity,” participants said globalization is challenging for women for some very practical reasons. Manufacturers with outsourcing partners scattered across the globe find they must be available for conference calls at all hours of the day and night. But this often conflicts with the multi-faceted roles of women who, besides keeping production humming, are usually also responsible for managing the household and caring for children.

Female manufacturing executives on the call from high tech firms in particular said this is a significant issue making it difficult for many women to seek advancement in the manufacturing field.

On the positive side, several executives on the call said their companies are making a concerted effort to recruit and retain female management candidates in the interest of increasing leadership diversity.

“Our CEO is convinced that the organization needs to be as diverse as possible,” said one male executive.

What’s been your experience? Is globalization especially hard on women manufacturing executives? What can be done to make it easier?

Written by Jeff Moad

Jeff Moad is Research Director and Executive Editor with the Manufacturing Leadership Community. He also directs the Manufacturing Leadership Awards Program. Follow our LinkedIn Groups: Manufacturing Leadership Council and Manufacturing Leadership Summit


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This is an issue in STEM education as well. Lose the girls' interest in STEM early in their educational experience, and it is difficult to grab their interest later. As STEM and manufacturing careers can overlap in many areas, it is important for manufacturers to also be STEM advocates for young women. I think it will be easier to develop a more diverse manufacturing workforce if we also develop a more diverse STEM workforce.
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Couldn't agree more, Val. As Council Member Jill O'Sullivan pointed out on our call, there's a growing number of non-profit organizations developing school curricula and other things aimed at encouraging girls to pursue STEM studies. One, Girls Inc., claims to have 136,000 members. http://girlsinc.org/?gclid=CLilhMju4bkCFWfhQgodzk0AsQ  
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