Only 20% of the blue-collar workforce are women. In times of low unemployment rates and thus, resulting in a significant talent shortage, it has never been more important to be an attractive employer to female as well as to male employees. Traditionally manual skills jobs were not the first choice for girls. Thus, women in blue-collar industries have always been underrepresented. This has to change for several reasons like high turnover rates and a wave of pending retirements. Besides that, research shows that companies with better gender and racial diversity are more productive than their less diverse counterparts. They are more innovative and more profitable.
The State of Women in Blue Collar Industries
In a world where we talk about gender equality and diversity of work teams, it is crucial to take a look into the blue-collar workforce where there are 80 percent fewer women than men. This results into a need for blue-collar employers to create better working conditions and training for women. The pay and opportunity gap varies by region and industry. However, women in logistics and manufacturing earn just 84 cents for every dollar paid to their male colleagues. There’s an even more significant gender pay gap in blue-collar leadership roles, where women make only 70% of male wages for similar work.
Luckily, there’s also a reason to be positive about the manual work profession’s efforts to create better gender equality. Over half of women in manufacturing, logistics, and transportation report seeing positive changes. Two-thirds would recommend their career to a daughter or another young woman.
Let’s take a look into topics that could help your company to become more attractive to female employees.
Challenges for Women in Manual Work
Culture, policy, and work environment can all play a role in retaining women in manual work environments. If you ask women in blue-collar work to rank career priorities, their answers were slightly different from the blue-collar workforce as a whole. Women are most likely to accept a job or stay with an employer who offers the following non-financial benefits:
- Challenging work assignments
- Work-life balance
- Company culture
- Career progression opportunities
- High-caliber colleagues
- Flexible scheduling
- Learning and development opportunities
Providing strong female role models in supervisory, management, and other leadership roles can be crucial to create a more gender-balanced culture.
Training Men vs. Women in Blue Collar Professions
One real-world employer in the warehousing and logistics sector has doubled-down on efforts to create gender balance in skilled positions. In particular, the employer has pushed to help women enter roles operating VNA equipment, pallet trucks, and counterbalance forklift machinery. Over the past year, the employer has promoted a record number of women to leadership positions.
The manual work gender gap starts early. 53% of manual work professionals believe the school system does little to encourage girls to pursue blue-collar careers. This means women are less likely to apply for jobs or continue vocational training programs. While few employers try to create gender-biased training systems, they don’t always create an inclusive playing field for female hires. Women may require additional training on safety procedures to have the same opportunity to succeed as male colleagues.