Women’s History Month: Closing the Gap



Women make up nearly half of the total workforce across the United States. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they only make up about 27 percent of manufacturing jobs.

So, what is the cause for the gender gap in manufacturing?

Perceptions play a significant part. A study by The Manufacturing Institute, Deloitte and the APICS Supply Chain Council found that most women believe other industries simply do a better job of attracting and maintaining female talent. Retail, consumer products, life science and medical devices, and tech media were the top four choices among women participating in the survey. Manufacturing did not even place.

According to the research, gender diversity brings direct benefits to the manufacturing industry.

Statistics show a clear correlation between diversity and better corporate financial performance, as well as higher stock values. There’s also research which demonstrates that workforces imbued with diversity are more likely to report market share growth year over year. Diverse teams also fuel innovation and optimize team performance.

Sheila Stafford writes for Forbes that fostering divergent thinking and entertaining several viewpoints is also key to increasing business performance and employee engagement. She says talking through different ideas to solve problems allows teams to understand issues in a broader context.

As for solutions, the Manufacturing Institute study found companies that employed flexible work practices and mentorship programs helped attract and retain women in their workforce.

Programs geared toward attracting women to careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are a good start. All 50 U.S. Governors sponsor some sort of STEM program aimed at getting more women into more male-dominated industries, including manufacturing.

For Stafford, however, the solutions must start long before a woman’s first day on the job. She calls on women in leadership roles in nontraditional industries like manufacturing to proactively develop talent through connections at a school or development groups within their respective companies.

Greenbrier’s Women’s Leadership Employee Resource Group, the GBXcels, is one example of a group that can make an impact on creating STEM pathways for girls in primary or secondary school. It can also form mentorship programs and create other benefits to attract new talent.

The gender gap in manufacturing is wide, but there are many solutions to bridge it. Slightly more than half of the women who responded to the survey indicated they’ve observed a positive change in the manufacturing industry’s attitude toward female professional employees over the past five years.

Over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely need to be filled. With the current gender gap in the labor force, the manufacturing industry could see two million of those jobs go unfilled!

This Women’s History Month, Greenbrier is proud to honor the women who choose a career path in manufacturing as members of our team.


Giffi et al. (2015). Minding the manufacturing gender gap: How manufacturers can get their fair share of talented women. Deolitte, The National Association of Manufacturers. Retrieved from https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/manufacturing/us-minding-the-manufacturing-gender-gap-final.pdf

Stafford, S (2021). The Gender Gap In Manufacturing And What To Do About It. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2021/12/17/the-gender-gap-in-manufacturing-and-what-to-do-about-it/?sh=204506132e66