THE MOST OBVIOUS ANSWER TO A MANPOWER SHORTAGE IN THE SHEET METAL INDUSTRY IS ‘WOMANPOWER.’ BUT IS YOUR SHOP READY TO LEAN IN?
The sheet metal industry is in dire need of more women. That much goes without saying. But when you peel back the layers of such a statement, what are we really saying?
For one, the number of men on any given job site easily outnumbers the women. As recently reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up just 9.1 percent of the construction industry’s workforce. When taking into account sheet metal as a specialty within that percent, that populace is even smaller.
So how then do we get more women to trade in their hairpins for hard hats? Well, according to the National Association of Women in Construction, market forces are already at work. The association reports that the number of women in the construction industry has been steadily on the rise over the past decade.
I’m no economist, but I am willing to bet that increase also correlates with the rise of innovation and use of technology, sustainability and safety in our industry. (See a blueprint for growth in these areas from Dodge Data & Analytics).
Without mansplaining* too much more, what I mean to say is that our industry is getting smarter and women are, and will continue to play, a crucial role of that.
And, as if you needed any more convincing, we have proof that diversity is powerful and profitable.
A study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) — a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institution devoted study of international economic policy — found that companies in the top 25 percent for gender diversity of their workforce were 46 percent more likely to outperform their industry average. Additional proof of this power can be found in our special Women Who Rock edition of The Cut. Even more proof of this can be found in the women who pull the purse strings to make SNIPS magazine possible, from our formidable art director, Niki Bonkoski, to our fearless publisher, Sarah Harding.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, and Women in Construction Week (March 3-9), we invite you to share the stories of women in your shop who are making a profound difference (email me at firstname.lastname@example.org ) in your operations. Although they may not all wear hard hats, that doesn’t make them any less of hard workers. And at the very least, that deserves a very big “Thank you.”
Emell Derra Adolphus