2022, International Women’s Day: Manufacturing has come a long way, but we’re still not there.
It’s International Women’s Day 2022, and we’re pleased and proud to support women in industry and all the incredible things they’re accomplishing.
International Women’s Day (IWD) is an annual event held on March 8 to honour women’s accomplishments and to promote equality. The campaign’s theme this year is #BreakTheBias, which is accompanied by a pose:
For articles she’s produced to commemorate International Women’s Day, my colleague Lanna interviewed some incredible women in manufacturing (link at the bottom).
I wanted to explain the changes that I’ve seen throughout the years for my own contribution (although more is still needed).
Women in manufacturing have been a part of my life for a long time. My father ran a little manufacturing firm — a spin-off from Westland Helicopters that built industrial doors — when I was a kid in the 1980s. I have clear memories of going to see my father at work and strolling around the factory. Surprisingly, I used to enjoy the stench and grime, as well as having to scrub my hands with Swarfega after each
But what I didn’t realise at the time was that every single worker on the shop floor was a man. As an eight-year-old, this reality didn’t appear to register and seemed to be the usual. However, looking back now, I can understand how male-dominated my father’s firm was (and probably many others like it at the time).
However, despite the fact that the manufacturing business has progressed and more women are now employed in it, we are still far from where we want to be. Women make up only 37% of the manufacturing employment, according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
Nonetheless, seeing the sea change that has occurred in many industrial organisations over the years is both invigorating and heartening. Laura McBrown and Kate Sharp, two sisters who took over G&B Electronic Designs Ltd from their father in 2015, spoke with me just yesterday. It was extremely inspiring to hear firsthand about their love for manufacturing and understanding that G&B has a 50/50 gender split in their
The solution, in my opinion, is to do everything possible to dispel industry’s conventional image and inspire more young females to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) occupations. Many modern manufacturing plants are nothing like the ones I used to see as a kid. They’re cutting-edge workplaces with cutting-edge technology and great invention — places that would have wowed me as a kid.
Sarah Black-Smith, Siemens’ Head of Factory Operations, had another brilliant suggestion in the latest issue of The Manufacturer magazine (coming out soon). Because parents have such a strong influence over their children, she believes that manufacturers should give tours of their facilities to both children and parents to assist them comprehend how clean and high-tech these places are.
I feel that by emphasising that manufacturing is no longer all grime and exposing the outstanding women who are making a difference in the industry, we can break down barriers and get closer to actual gender equality.
How can you participate in this year’s International Women’s Day? There are a variety of ways you may participate in IWD, whether it’s changing your social media profile image to a photo of you striking the IWD posture or simply spreading the key words.
The IWD website, particularly the ‘Get Involved’ section, is a wonderful place to start. Include the hashtags #BreakTheBias and #IWD2022 in any social media posts as well.
Finally, if you work in manufacturing, take a peek around to see how many women there are. Are you actively working to correct the industry’s imbalance? I sincerely hope so.