When we first saw this article “Unconscious Gender Bias Still Obstructs Women in Manufacturing” at www.industryweek.com, my first inclination was to pass it by as outdated since we are so much more enlightened. And then I thought about just how few women we know running manufacturing operations here in SW Ontario and the answer is, very few. Right now, I’m working with two very accomplished women who run large, complicated auto parts manufacturing operations with plant sales in excess of $100 million. And I know of one other. But that’s only three!
When I look back to opening KEC in October 1976, women in manufacturing industries could only aspire to Clerk or Secretary positions if they didn’t want to work on the assembly lines or sewing machines. Certainly we’ve seen significant change in four decades and women populate – and we’ve placed many of them.
Yet, as significant a change as that represents, women seem to hit a ceiling within those silos of expertise. We know many female Managers of those disciplines who are well-respected, but we don’t see them getting chances at Plant or General Management. And, so, we wonder if maybe Diana Bilimoria, the author of this article, does have a point and maybe there is still an unconscious bias that prevents or limits women from rising to the top and we should, all of us, look inside ourselves for answers.
At the same time, let’s applaud the progress women have made in their contributions to manufacturing industry. And, perhaps, social change simply needs more time for the scales to balance. Still, I think, we all can play a part in progress if we think and act consciously and reward talent and merit regardless of gender.
Enjoy the Article! ~ Jim Fairfax