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  • Writer's pictureBen Nordman

Women in Manufacturing: A History of Underrepresentation

Updated: May 9

The month of March is Women's History Month, with it hitting close to home for us at Obsidian Manufacturing Industries, Inc. being a woman-led organization. For decades, women have been a minority in the manufacturing industry, and the trend is holding steady as of late.

The manufacturing industry has largely been underrepresented in terms of women working within the field. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 4.6 million women working within the industry. That composes only 29.5% of manufacturing workers across the United States.

Woman warehouse worker completing task

While severely underrepresented in the present, the manufacturing industry has traditionally been looked at as a male-dominated industry, so to delve in deeper to the state of women in manufacturing, we need to look at the numbers over time.

Further research done by the census in 2016 shows that the percentage of women in the industry has actually stayed somewhat stagnant over the past 50 years. Figure 1 displays the percentages of women and men in manufacturing since 1970.

Manufacturing Industry Workers by Sex: 1970-2016 - U.S. Census Bureau

The talent pipeline in manufacturing is also lacking when it comes to women, with only 16% of C-suite executives in manufacturing being women, according to McKinsey & Company's Women in the Workplace study.

The current landscape of women in manufacturing has been stagnant for decades, with slight decreases in percentages over the past 10 years. With that being said, a more diverse workplace is a better workplace and we are all a part of the problem as well as the solution.

The movement of the industry towards the use of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) within manufacturing, high schools and colleges should look to find ways to get more women into their programs, thus increasing the likelihood of women getting into manufacturing.

So, in finishing, what are you doing to correct the decade old problem of women being underrepresented in manufacturing?

obsidianmfg logo

Obsidian Manufacturing Industries, Inc. is a Rockford, Ill. manufacturing company and is the OEM for Magna-Lock USA workholding, MagnaLift & Power-Grip lift magnets, and Arter Precision Grinding Machines as well providing surface grinding services. They are located at 5015 28th Ave. in Rockford, Ill. with a phone number of 815-962-8700. Check out more at


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