Manufacturing’s female representation under spotlight

Posted on 31 Jul 2014 by The Manufacturer

Annual IET survey highlights male-female workplace gap

Manufacturing has outscored the construction and engineering industries for female representation in the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s annual skills report.

In a survey of 400 firms, the existing gulf between male and female workplace representation was highlighted with 24% of manufacturing employees being female.

But despite the unequal balance, this was in contrast to other industries including construction (11%) and engineering, which scored just six percent.

With manufacturing second behind police officers (27%), the survey of 11 professions illustrated the continuing struggle for firms looking to recruit female engineers, with the six percent figure unchanged since 2008.

The report also highlighted the anxiety of companies struggling to recruit sufficiently qualified engineering staff, with a number believing this predicament posed a threat to their business.

IET chief executive Nigel Fine called for immediate action in addressing the search for new engineers, believing the recruitment of more women as being particularly important.

“Promoting engineering to women is particularly important given how few currently work as engineers, so it’s disappointing to see that so many employers are taking no real action to improve diversity,” he said.

“They need to take urgent steps to improve recruitment and retention of women, for example by promoting flexible and part-time working, together with planned routes of progression that can accommodate career breaks.

Fine added: “There also needs to be deeper engagement between employers and the education system to produce a talent pipeline that can sustain a thriving UK economy.”

The results for manufacturing show a steady increase in the number of women working in the industry at factory level, similarly to data from May showing greater female representation at boardroom level.

Lord Davies’ Women on Boards report showed all of Britain’s FTSE100 manufacturers now have at least one female director on their boards.

Leading the way were GlaxoSmithKline and Unilever with five female board members each, while Diageo had four, but scored highest in percentage terms with 44% of board places taken by women.

But the Davies report also warned the industry needs to address its “dirty and unglamorous” image if it is to increase female recruitment levels in future.