New AAUW Report Examines the Reasons for the Large Gender Gap in Manufacturing Jobs

The American Association of University Women has released new research that explores the challenges women face in male-dominated industries and the barriers that hinder their success. Women are more likely to quit jobs in manufacturing than women in other industries, reflecting a history of sexual harassment, unequal pay and opportunity denied.

While the number of Americans employed in the manufacturing industry has declined dramatically since the late 1970s, that trend has reversed in the last decade: In January 2010, 11.6 million Americans worked in manufacturing; by January 2020, 12.8 million did. But only Only 29.2 percent of all manufacturing employees are women.

According to the report, men are more likely than women to hold the highest-paying manufacturing jobs: Only 17 percent of workers in the petroleum and coal fields, which pay almost $43 an hour, are women. But women account for more than half of workers in textile jobs, which pay under $20 an hour

The report found that more than 82 percent of women in manufacturing jobs reported unwanted touching, kissing, or other physical advances. Women who experience sexual harassment are more likely to leave their jobs than those who do not. And women who work in industries dominated by men like manufacturing are more likely to experience sexual harassment and sense they are being passed over for promotions.

The report also outlines how employers can build a more competitive workforce by addressing these longstanding issues and creating more pathways for women in the manufacturing fields — especially as we begin to rebuild our economy after the pandemic.

The full report, Factory Flaw: The Attrition and Retention of Women in Manufacturing, was made possible by the support of the Arconic Foundation. It may be downloaded here.

Filed Under: Research/StudySexual Assault/Harassment

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