So what accounts for the fact that in 2017 women make up 47 percent of the U.S. workforce and 52 percent of all professionals and managers, but only 29 percent of the manufacturing workforce and 5 percent of manufacturing CEOs?
Studies conclude that the under-representation of women in manufacturing is a complex matter which extends to societal and cultural expectations and so precludes finding a simple solution.
However, there is hope. Our work is showing promise in how to address the various aspects of the problem. Study after study supports the fact that women are less likely to believe in their ability to achieve than their male colleagues. Some call this a confidence gap. This is not surprising, especially in the manufacturing industry, as women are subject to bias and barriers related to stereotypes about women’s roles. And when it comes to manufacturing leadership, women have few role models.
In our work with women in manufacturing, we have conducted a number of research studies to identify the underlying factors that enable women to persist and succeed. Among those factors is the woman’s belief in herself to achieve, which our studies show to be found in women who 1) can articulate a personal vision that includes their career and 2) have developed a high level of self-efficacy.
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