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Women And Manufacturing Industry While several efforts have been made to encourage more women to enter the manufacturing industries, there is plenty of ground to gain

By Gautam Kumar

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A lot of ink has been spilled over the pressing need to bring in more equal representation of women in the workforce, especially in manufacturing. From bringing diverse perspectives and innovative approaches in decision-making, to providing balance to organizational structure and improving the business's financial performance, there are certainly several benefits of having more representation of women in the workforce. Historically a male-dominated industry, Indian manufacturing has seen a steady rise in women playing key roles in the industry over the last few years.

But even today the gap remains.

In fact, while several efforts have been made to encourage more women to enter the manufacturing industries, there is plenty of ground to gain. The good news is that with ongoing technological evolution driving Industry 4.0, it's expected that women's representation in manufacturing will continue to grow.

Specifically, with 2021, shaping up to be a year of advancement for Indian manufacturing, now is the time for manufacturers to make a concerted effort to get more women in their workforce.

Making way for women workers

According to studies, women barely constitute 12 per cent in India's manufacturing sector. Therefore, attracting, retaining and advancing women talent in manufacturing is the immediate need for business success.

Perhaps, the question we need to ask, is how do we achieve this?

One way of doing this is to reshape the way people think about jobs in manufacturing. This is because outdated and often wrong perceptions of manufacturing being labour-intensive have impacted women's desires to join the industry. Intensive efforts need to be made towards creating more awareness and education on the types of jobs in manufacturing, dispelling myths and showcasing the huge opportunities in the sector to help women get the right qualifications will pave the way for more women joining the manufacturing industry.

Secondly, manufacturers can attract women talent by creating a diverse culture and focusing on their career advancement and overall leadership development. Many companies have successfully developed specific policies such as parental leave and flexible hours and robust strategies aimed at attracting high-performing women in their workforce and building an inclusive workplace culture. For example, auto industry is the front-runner in attracting and retaining women workers with favourable policies and career advancement roadmaps.

Seeing is believing. So, it's imperative for female role models, who have risen the ranks, to be visible throughout all levels. Recognizing their success helps attract other women to manufacturing. For example, many women engineers across industries, not only mentor, but even share their career journeys with aspiring students, creating an impactful and positive perception about manufacturing. It is incredibly important to shine a light on the accomplishments of women achievers in the manufacturing industry to inspire others to join them.

Another area of improvement is focusing on a specific strategy around recruiting women. Although many companies have an overall talent strategy, without a focused effort, manufacturers likely will have a tough time countering the underrepresentation of women workers. Most importantly, creating opportunities for challenging assignments, flexible work practices, and attractive pay are also the key driving aspects of a women's career.

Last but not the least, the government must make more policies that benefit female workers and encourages their active participation in the manufacturing industry. A good start is the framing of the New Education Policy that emphasizes on vocational training as a route to generating employment. Additionally, stringent policies on companies' ensuring the safety and health of their employees should be put in practice and monitored.


Today, women represent one of the largest pools of untapped talent for manufacturers. Given that the manufacturing industry is in a state of reinvention, encouraging, educating and empowering women to join the workforce will be critical to the future success of the industry. Collectively, this will come out as the righteous approach for writing India's growth story.

Gautam Kumar

CHRO, Director HR, SKF India

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