It is a great time to be a professional in skilled trades, manufacturing, engineering and logistics. Job growth has been steady – as well as salary growth, and talented people are writing their own tickets in the job market. Employers, however, are facing skill gaps and talent shortages, and an estimated 2 million jobs will go unfilled over the course of the next ten years.
March is Women’s History Month and it’s a great time to start thinking about ways to actively recruit women in these industries to diversify your workforce and close your skill gaps.
The Challenges Of Women in “Nontraditional” Fields
Women have always participated in manufacturing, engineering and trades, but at a much lower percentage than men. Experts attribute this disparity to industry culture, lack of mentorship, the perception that women can’t do the work, and other factors.
Another challenge women face in these industries centers around safety. It can be difficult for women to find protective gear that fits them properly and allows them to work safely. Women are reluctant to draw attention to issues like this, because they are afraid of drawing attention to themselves or raising questions about their fitness for the job.
Pregnancy can also be a deterrent for women entering these fields – they may be unsure about working in potentially dangerous situations when they are pregnant, they do not want to be seen as a burden, and they worry about how they will be received after maternity leave in an industry dominated by men.
How To Overcome Stereotypes and Attract Women To Your Workforce
The fact is, skilled trades, manufacturing, engineering and logistics are all industries that offer high wages, clear paths for growth, job security and skill portability. Women in these fields enjoy tremendous benefits, but they are still seen as going against the grain of what it means to be a woman in the workforce.
It is well-documented that diverse teams are more productive and more successful than homogenous teams, and actively recruiting women can help close skill and workforce gaps. To cultivate a more inclusive workplace and attract a more diverse candidate pool, employers should focus on:
- Working with local schools, trade programs and job corps to dispel gender-based myths.
- Offer mentoring and role models for new hires of all genders.
- Talking about career paths in the industry so young women understand there is room for growth.
- Offering fair maternity leave policies.
- Providing women with resources for locating unisex and gender-specific safety equipment.
You can support these types of initiatives by including images of women on your website and in promotional material aimed at job seekers, by showcasing talented women from your team and including female leaders in the hiring process so candidates can visualize a place for women at your organization and can see potential role models first-hand.