Why are Women More Likely to Quit Jobs in Manufacturing?

Why Are Women More Likely to Quit Jobs in Manufacturing?

June 9, 2021
“Even as the industry has started to recover, women in manufacturing face persistent problems—including sexual harassment, inequality in pay and promotions, and dissatisfaction with family leave," says a new report.

Women are more likely to leave their jobs if they work in manufacturing compared to men in the same field. Women are also more likely to leave manufacturing compared to other industries.

These are the findings of a recent study by “Factory Flaw, The Attrition and Attention of Women in Manufacturing”, published by the American Association of University Women (AAUW). These findings hold true when controlling for age, race, marital status, parental status, union membership, region and local economic activity, the report notes.

The issues behind this departure are, unfortunately, not new. “Even as the industry has started to recover, women in manufacturing face persistent problems—including sexual harassment, inequality in pay and promotions, and dissatisfaction with family leave—and are more likely to leave their jobs than women in other industries,” the report concludes.

As far as sexual harassment is concerned, the report cites a survey it conducted found that:

  • 83% of women said they have been subject to unwanted touching, kissing, or other physical advances
  • 74% of when said that have seen unwanted touching, kissing, or other physical advances
  • 72% of women said they had received unwanted propositions for dates or sex
  • 62% of women said that have been subjected to unwanted verbal advances
  • 61.7% of women said they had seen people make suggestive noises or hand gestures
  • 50% of women said ard people talk about sex or make sexist comments or jokes

Pay, of course, is another very large issue. The report found that men are more likely than women to hold the highest-paying manufacturing jobs. For example workers in petroleum and coal earn $43 an hour, and only 17% of women hold these jobs. But in textile jobs, which pay under $20 an hour, women account for more than half of these jobs.  Additionally, the percentage of women in manufacturing jobs has decreased, and these jobs generally pay higher.

Another critical area that causes women to leave jobs is family leave policies. The AAUW study showed that 69.2% of women were not satisfied with the amount of paid family leave.  Some comments from the survey made this point.“Offer maternity leave with full pay rather than just short-term disability pay,” one woman suggested.  While others wanted  “more paid time off for pregnancy, taking care of a child, and other related care” and others wanted to see an increase in the number of weeks given for maternity leave.

Addressing these issues will benefit both the workers and the industry as a whole, the association says. “Not only will women and their families gain from having access to these well-paying jobs, but industry will benefit richly from the skills, talents and diversity that more women can bring,” said Kim Churches, AAUW’s chief executive officer. “Our findings are a call to action for employers to increase the presence – and power – of women in the manufacturing world.”

AAUW recommends that manufacturers:

  • Take firm steps to prohibit sexual harassment. Creating clearly defined sexual harassment policies, instituting complaint procedures, making harassment training in-person and interactive, and conducting bystander awareness training are all needed.
  • Ensure equality in pay and promotions. Pay audits, greater transparency and setting current wages without regard to past salary history will help. 
  • Improve family-friendly policies. Benefits such as paid family and medical leave, flextime help workers balance their tasks at work with those at home and reduce women’s likelihood of leaving their jobs.
  • Support training and re-skilling. Increasingly, well-paying manufacturing jobs require a college degree, at a minimum. Companies should create apprenticeship programs for college students and offer tuition reimbursement for employees.

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