Women in Manufacturing
Even though there has been considerable progress in labor force participation especially when it comes to women in manufacturing, I think the percentage of women drops significantly as you look higher in the manufacturing ranks. Despite concerted efforts among co-operations, overall this picture has not improved for years. It is clear that women are over-represented in among unpaid home workforce and informal sectors across the board.
In the USA for example between 1970 and 2009, women went from holding 37% of all jobs to nearly 48%. That’s almost 38 million more women in the workplace. Without them, the economy would be 25% smaller today. McKinsey & Company (2011) argue that this is equal to the combined GDP of Illinois, California and New York. It is important to remember that an expanding workforce and rising productivity are two most important factors that drive GDP growth.
According to McKinsey & Company there are factors that limit women’s rise to the top in certain corporations. These are the need for personal achievement, more money and recognition just like men. Lack of role models, exclusion from the informal networks not having a sponsor in upper management to create for them opportunities is also an obstacle. The assumption that women cannot handle certain jobs at the same time attend to family responsibilities is another limiting stereotype that managers use to deny women opportunities. Lastly women have their own limiting beliefs that hamper their development- such as waiting to attain more skills or just wanting to be asked.
Advantages on having women in the workplace
According to Zeneger Folkman, a corporation that researches on leadership, women in the workplace do rate higher than their male colleagues on 12 out of 16 characteristics required in manufacturing. Women significantly outscored men in taking initiative and being result driven. Below are additional areas showing why keeping a woman in the work place is being smart:
- Women will often chose to remain in certain jobs when efforts are made to make them feel valued professionally.
- Unlike men, women value the prospect of pouring their energies into making a difference and working closely with colleagues. They never want to give away that satisfaction for anything else.
- Women are naturally good at listening than men. This is one vital skill that is critical in managing people if managers need to optimize productivity from employees as well as keep customers. According to Dr. Susan Sherwood, this is so because women are more discussion oriented than men who more often than not just want to take action. Men tend to communicate through activities rather than conversations.
- Women are better listeners than men, and this is exactly the skill that women in manufacturing need to manage the workforce and clients. This is imperative because workers want bosses in who are willing to listen, feel and act from a knowledge point of view. This way they know that their challenges and grievances are being handled better.
- Women are also better at consensus building unlike men who are would like to give directions. The obvious male dominated commanding leader that runs from top to bottom is being phased out by women in the workplace who are willing to listen more. Female leaders are more likely to lead through influence that comes as result of building supportive relationships.
- Women being mothers are traditionally more likely to be more tolerant with their employees than men. They are less likely to jump into instantaneous conclusion or make decisions too quickly or take action too soon. When people wait they will make more informed decisions.
Bottom line – A healthy workforce is a blended workforce where the right people are placed in the right positions.