AAUW Report Cites Alternatives/Challenges Dealing with Ladies in Manufacturing

Washington DC, March 9, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Women are more likely to quit manufacturing jobs than women in other industries due to sexual harassment, unequal pay, and denied opportunities. They are also more likely to quit manufacturing than men, according to a new study by the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

The results provide insight into the challenges women face in male-dominated industries. They make it clear that manufacturers can help themselves and build a more competitive workforce by addressing these longstanding problems.

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“Not only will women and their families benefit from access to these high-paying jobs, but the industry will also benefit greatly from the skills, talent and diversity that more women can bring,” said Kim Churches, chief executive officer of AAUW. “Our results are a call to employers to increase the presence and power of women in the manufacturing world.”

Women workers have been hard hit by factory job cuts since the 1970s, and those with less education have suffered the most, according to the report titled Factory Defects: The Attrition and Retention of Women in Manufacturing. The results of the AAUW were based on a survey of 214 women who work in the manufacturing sector, as well as on an analysis of employment and wage developments over the past two decades.

US manufacturing lost 4.4 million jobs between 2000 and 2020, mostly in the earlier years. However, women, who have about one of three manufacturing occupations, are more affected than men and lost 31 percent of their jobs in the first decades of this century. Men lost 23 percent of their jobs over the same period. The manufacturing sector tends to offer above-average wages and benefits, which makes these losses particularly painful.

The share of women in manufacturing jobs continued to stagnate, although the sector returned before the pandemic. This is unfortunate not only for women, but also for manufacturing employers who are struggling to find the skilled workers they need to stay competitive.

In the AAUW survey, women workers cited several reasons why they struggle to thrive in the male-dominated sector. This included workplace cultures that too often tolerate sexual harassment. gender-specific wage gaps and opportunities for advancement; and lack of support when balancing work and family responsibilities. Skin color women said they often felt isolated because of their race and gender.

To remove these serious obstacles, AAUW recommends manufacturers:

  • Take decisive action to prevent sexual harassment. The establishment of clearly defined guidelines for sexual harassment, the introduction of complaint procedures, the personal and interactive training of harassment as well as the implementation of training to raise awareness of viewers are required.
  • Guarantee of equal pay and promotion. Wage audits, more transparency and the determination of current wages without considering previous salary developments will help.
  • Improving family-friendly policies. Benefits such as paid family and medical leave, as well as flexitime, help workers balance what they do at work with those at home and reduce the likelihood of women leaving their jobs.
  • Support training and retraining. Well-paid manufacturing contracts increasingly require at least a university degree. Companies should create apprenticeship programs for students and offer staff reimbursement of tuition fees.


The American Association of University Women (AAUW) promotes gender equality between women and girls through research, education, and advocacy. Our non-partisan, not-for-profit organization has more than 170,000 members and supporters in the United States, as well as 1,000 local branches and more than 800 college and university members. Find out more and visit us at www.aauw.org.

Contact: Mary C. Hickey | 202.785.7748 | 973.819.3608 | [email protected]

Mary C. Hickey American University Women’s Association 202.785.7748 [email protected]

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