Manufacturing Institute Releases Report on Closing the Gender Gap

Women are the manufacturing industry’s largest talent opportunity: bringing just 6% more women into manufacturing would fill all open jobs in the sector.

WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/30/22 –

Washington, D.C. – The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers, in partnership with Colonial Life, released a study on how manufacturers are leading the way in recruiting and retaining women—and what more the industry can do. The paper provides an overview of effective strategies to close the gender gap, incorporating survey responses and interviews with various company executives to identify best practices and provide insights for other manufacturers.

“To address the workforce shortage and remain competitive as an industry, manufacturers need to expand their talent pools by bringing in more diverse and underrepresented candidates—and this latest report gives us a blueprint on how,” said MI President Carolyn Lee. “Women represent the largest untapped talent pool that manufacturers cannot ignore; in fact, raising the number of women in the manufacturing sector by 6% would be enough to fill almost every one of the 746,000 open jobs in manufacturing as of October. Earlier this year, the MI launched our 35×30 campaign, which aims to do just that—increase the percentage of women among manufacturers from 29%, where we hover now, to 35% by 2030 by changing perceptions among women and girls about manufacturing as a career, attracting and retaining more female employees.”

“While it may not be a surprise that child care availability and flexibility are top challenges for women, these latest findings make it abundantly clear that child care and flexibility are issues we cannot ignore if we are going to close the skills gap in manufacturing,” said MI Vice President of Strategic Engagement and Inclusion AJ Jorgenson. “Our industry should look at this as an opportunity to provide real solutions that better allow our workforce to manage both professional and personal responsibilities.”

Key Findings:

  • Prioritizing a diverse workplace is key to attracting workers, improving productivity and employee retention and growing a company’s bottom line.
  • Women represent a sizable talent pool that manufacturers cannot ignore. As it stands, women make up more than 29% of the manufacturing workforce. By raising the percentage of women in the manufacturing sector to 35% of total employment in the sector, there could be 800,000 more female manufacturing employees. This would be enough to fill almost every open job in the manufacturing sector today.
  • Companies that have increased worker flexibility have seen a positive correlation with the ability to attract new employees and retain current staff. New policies have included part-time options, adjusted shift schedules and opportunities for remote work.
  • Both men and women cite lack of child care options/support to be an issue, though evidence suggests this is a larger issue for women. Workplace flexibility can aid in addressing this challenge, though some companies are exploring subsidized or onsite solutions.
  • Providing job training/continuing education opportunities, developing employee resource groups and establishing mentorship programs also help with retention and recruitment. Implementing policies that can help advance and train a diversity of leaders shows a commitment to employee growth, making the company a more attractive place to stay—or join.

On Tuesday, Dec. 6, the MI’s Women MAKE America Initiative will host a virtual event featuring the latest research findings about the top challenges women are facing in the workplace as well as learn from industry leaders on what their companies are doing to address these issues to create more inclusive work environments. The discussion will focus particularly on how companies can support their employees with child care solutions, increased flexibility and other benefits that provide a competitive edge.

– About the Manufacturing Institute –

The MI grows and supports the manufacturing industry’s skilled workers for the advancement of modern manufacturing. The MI’s diverse initiatives support all workers in America, including women, veterans and students, through skills training programs, community building and the advancement of their career in manufacturing. As the workforce development and education partner of the NAM, the MI is a trusted adviser to manufacturers, equipping them with resources necessary to solve the industry’s toughest challenges. For more information on the MI, please visit