Kudos to Susan Feyder for her article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune asking why more women aren’t entering the manufacturing workforce…
Feyder says that, overall, women account for less than one-third of Minnesota’s manufacturing workforce. That number includes nonproduction jobs, though, which means the actual number of women working on factory floors may be even lower.
The irony is that manufacturing is a far more skilled, high-tech profession than is commonly perceived. But overcoming such misinformation takes time.
Feyder cites the work of the Tapani sisters– co-presidents of Wyoming Machine Inc. in Stacy, Minnesota. The sisters have been trying to bring more women into the manufacturing sector, especially as manufacturing seems to be adding jobs in the past two years.
To draw more women into challenging manufacturing work, though, the Tapani’s say that they need to overcome some stereotypical views that manufacturing is “dirty and dull,” and “not at all a suitable career for a woman.”
However, the opportunities may be there. Some factories report difficulty in finding qualified workers, particularly for positions as welders, skilled machinists, and engineers. Additionally, it’s projected that demand for skilled factory workers will increase with the gradual departure of the Baby Boom generation from the workforce.
All of this presents a potentially new workforce challenge for manufacturing, and one that women seeking good-paying careers may be able to fill.