The New STEM Mindset

Experience and attitude, not gender-bias, is what limits women in manufacturing, according to a recent article.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women accounted for more than half of the U.S. workforce in several sectors in 2014, yet, they are underrepresented in manufacturing. Taking that a step further, an article in the Baton Rouge Business Report indicated that women comprised 21.6% of the labor force at refineries and 24.7% at chemical plants, nationwide, in 2014.

The author of the article interviewed several women who are working as operators, engineers and plant managers at companies such as Grace, ExxonMobil Plastics, Air Liquide and Sasol. All indicated that despite the underrepresentation of women in manufacturing, it has little to do with gender-bias and everything to do with attitude.

The article states: “While the women we spoke to all possess a common affinity for STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math), none admit to having had any additional obstacles to overcome as women.”

The women profiled cite some common themes for success, including: attitude (refusing to believe that they are at a disadvantage), mentors (having a strong role model), and money (the allure of high wages is always a good motivator).

There’s an over-arching shift in perception happening in the manufacturing workforce, as it becomes a more inclusive environment. It may be fueled by outreach efforts and new approaches to STEM education, but it ultimately starts with the individual.

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