Women comprise nearly half of the working population (47.5 percent), yet they are underrepresented in the manufacturing industry — making up only about one-third of the manufacturing workforce in the United States.1  But despite the deficiency in numbers, women in the manufacturing workforce are experienced, well-educated and driven — the majority of women aspire to reach C-suite. As well, 82 percent say that they see a career path to get there, according to a Deloitte study.2 

PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, established the Packaging and Processing Women’s Leadership Network (PPWLN) in 2016 to recruit, retain and advance women’s careers in packaging and processing through events, information-sharing and networking.

The next PPWLN event will take place at PACK EXPO International (Oct. 14-17; McCormick Place, Chicago) from 7:30-9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16. The breakfast event will include a conversation with industry executives about the company culture change required to drive diversity in the manufacturing workforce. Moderated by Jane Chase, executive director at the Institute of Packaging Professionals, the panel will feature Hugh Roddy, vice president, global engineering and project management at Chobani; Carol O’Neill, group president, packaging at Barry-Wehmiller; and other industry leaders. 

PPWLN encourages young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) industries, as there are tremendous career opportunities. As automation transforms the manufacturing industry, advanced manufacturing jobs require highly specialized skills. Increasing the number of female students pursuing STEM degrees will help fill the workforce demand.  

The manufacturing industry’s biggest pool of untapped talent is women. Across the labor force, women hold more than half of associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the U.S. As the entire manufacturing industry is facing a skills gap, it’s clear that manufacturing companies need a new approach to recruiting, maintaining and advancing women. Research conducted by Deloitte shows3 that gender diversity greatly benefits manufacturing companies through improved innovation, higher return on equity and increased profitability.

Women tend to look for a workplace that offers opportunities for interesting assignments, work-life balance and upward mobility; and when employees believe that the organization is committed to inclusion, they report a better ability to innovate. Equal opportunity employment, and the greater inclusion of women in manufacturing positions, has provided a better workplace culture for employees en masse. Women have the unique opportunity to secure jobs in important manufacturing sectors while fundamentally changing the culture for the better.

Women in the packaging, processing or manufacturing industry can join PPWLN on LinkedIn to connect with peers and find out about upcoming events, or visit pmmi.org/ppwln.

For more information on the breakfast event, and to register for the show, visit packexpointernational.com.

  1. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/blogs/random-samplings/2017/10/women- manufacturing.html
  2. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/manufacturing/us-mfg-women-in-manufacturing-2015-study.pdf
  3.  https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/minding-the-gender-gap-in-manufacturing-industrial-products-and-services.html

PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, represents more than 800 North American manufacturers and suppliers of equipment, components and materials as well as providers of related equipment and services to the packaging and processing industry. We work to advance a variety of industries by connecting consumer goods companies with manufacturing solutions through the world-class PACK EXPO portfolio of trade shows, leading trade media and a wide range of resources to empower our members. The PACK EXPO trade shows unite the world of packaging and processing to advance the industries they serve: PACK EXPO International, PACK EXPO Las Vegas, Healthcare Packaging EXPO, PACK EXPO East, EXPO PACK México, EXPO PACK Guadalajara and ProFood Tech.

To register and learn more, visit packexpointernational.com.