Is Workplace Discrimination Just a Cliché in the Manufacturing Industry?

The labor force has an almost equal composition of men and women. However, among the manufacturing workforce, only 27 percent of the industry consists of women. Why is this?

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Alan Fuchsberg, Jacob Fuchsberg Law FirmAlan Fuchsberg, Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm

We rarely take into consideration our gender when assessing what we want to do with our lives. Gender equality has come a long way over the past several decades. Fields that were once dominated by men are now seeing more and more women. A survey conducted by CareerBuilder, however, indicated that gender still affects what people can expect to get out of their careers.

Take men for example. They expect higher job levels throughout their career when compared to women. In fact, their expectations to fill both CEO and vice president roles is twice that of what women expect. Only 10 percent of men expect to remain in entry-level positions while 22 percent of women have the same expectation. Also notable is that 54 percent of men view their jobs as a career while only 47 percent of women have the same view. 42 percent of men are content with their career advancement opportunities, but only 36 percent of women are.

What about you? Do you believe women's pay is comparable to men's?

The CareerBuilder survey reveals 34 percent of women believe their pay isn't comparable to what men make who hold the same position and have the same experience. On the other side of the fence, though, 82 percent of men believe the pay is equal. Yet all these differences don't lead to job dissatisfaction among many women. Although women have differing opinions around career expectations and equal pay, the rate at which men (64 percent) and women (63 percent) are satisfied with their careers is about the same.

Is Discrimination a Cliché in the Manufacturing Industry?

The labor force has an almost equal composition of men (53 percent) and women (47 percent). However, among the manufacturing workforce, only 27 percent of the industry consists of women. Why is this? Is workplace discrimination just a clichĂ© in the manufacturing industry, or is it a real problem?

Gendered career paths are quite common regardless of society's recognizance of them. Take for example the manufacturing industry. Men are expected to fill many of the higher-up roles, including engineering and management positions. Women, however, are often placed in quality control and accounting roles along with other human resource positions.

Why does this happen? Is it because men are more commonly associated with aggressiveness and independence, both of which are two qualities that must be mastered to effectively fill leadership roles? Perhaps women are pointed toward safety control roles because of their "feminine" qualities of nurturing and caring.

Regardless of whether these gendered career paths are intentional, it is evident that opportunities for career development and advancement are more common for men than for women. It's also noteworthy that many women fail to seek leadership roles because of the disadvantage they endure when networking. Since more leadership roles are filled by men, this puts women in a unique position -- they must lean on males as mentors to guide them, but for some women, they would much rather follow in the footsteps of a female mentor rather than a male.

Workplace Patterns That Indicate Unconscious Gender Bias

If you notice any of these patterns occurring in your workplace, there's a good chance that unconscious—or possibly conscious—gender bias is shaping the company toward a more male-dominated brand.

  • Women have to exhibit more competence than men to be considered as equally competent as their male counterparts. This leads many women having to prove themselves again and again.
  • The women in your workplace walk a fine line of trying not to be too feminine or masculine.
  • Your workspace places a stereotype on women, believing they become less committed to their work after having children or starting a family.
  • There's a tug-of-war conflict (this is commonly seen in the manufacturing industry) where women are constantly battling men to fill a limited number of leadership roles.

How to Avoid Gender Bias in the Workplace

Ernesto Reuben, a professor at the Columbia Business School, says, “Studies that seek to answer why there are more men than women in STEM fields typically focus on women’s interests and choices. This may be important, but our experiments show that another culprit of this phenomenon is that hiring managers possess an extraordinary level of gender bias when making decisions and filling positions, often times choosing the less qualified male over a superiorly qualified female.” To avoid gender bias in your manufacturing plant, make sure to follow the tips listed below.

Use Valuable Data

Conduct surveys and audits in the workplace to assess gender bias. Don't use limited findings to influence your process of eliminating gender bias. Take for example you conduct a survey that indicates there is no evidence of sexual assault in your plant. This finding is highly unlikely, so, therefore, you should start asking yourself why no one is coming forward. Always include both men and women as moderators of the audits. This ensures women feel comfortable coming forward with their true thoughts and concerns.


You're not the only manufacturing plant that struggles with gender bias, and you're not the only one seeking to make a change. Because of this, it's always helpful to collaborate with other manufacturing companies that have successfully corrected gender bias. You can use their knowledge and strategies to tackle gender bias in your own plant.

Draw a Straight Line

Create bathrooms and locker rooms separately for men and women, each of which should be the same size. Also, while we're on the topic of locker rooms, make sure to enforce a policy that discourages "locker room" talk. Locker room talk occurs among both women and men, and it can create major drama in the workplace. Locker room talk takes place when males talk inappropriately about women and vice versa.

If you feel you are a victim of workplace discrimination, it's imperative to contact your supervisor. You deserve equal treatment in the workplace regardless of your gender.

Alan Fuchsberg, has been practicing law for over 30 years, and comes from a family of lawyers and judges, who were the founding members of the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm. In his view, all clients should be considered members of the family and shown dignity, respect, and compassion. â€‹

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