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Women in senior manufacturing roles: rarer than women bishops?

On 14th July the Church of England voted to allow women to become bishops for the first time in its history. For the past 20 years women have been allowed to become priests, with 20% now being female. 

And with the recent government reshuffle bringing the proportion of women in the cabinet to approximately 25%, it appears that two areas historically dominated by white middle-class men (male, pale and stale!) may finally be seeing a shift towards parity – although there is still a long way to go!

I recently watched a BBC programme debating the topic “Does having women leaders matter?” on the subject.

It surprises me that in this day and age it’s something that is still questioned. It reminded me of a recent breakfast event we ran, which featured Lucy Adams as our guest speaker.

Lucy, a seasoned HR professional whose career includes five years as HR Director of the BBC, addressed the challenges faced by women in business today and looked at ways of achieving equality at a senior level in the workplace.

Along with some funny (if shocking!) anecdotes about the comments she had received through the years, Lucy highlighted some startling facts and figures regarding women in leadership positions:

Woman total 3.8% of Fortune 500 CEOs worldwide and only 8% of top executives are female
There are just 20 female heads of state worldwide
Women account for 20.3% of elected parliamentarians across the globe
There are still huge differences in earnings between men and women: men earn 39% more on average in South Korea, with the lowest gap in average pay being 4% in Hungary

These are just some examples across the board where women clearly are in the minority.

As a senior consultant in our Manufacturing practice within Interim Partners, I see Manufacturing is clearly a very male-dominated field. From the number of GMs, MDs, CEOs, COOs, CTOs, CFOs and Operations Directors I speak to on a daily basis, I can honestly say 99% of them are men. Several HR Directors who I’ve met are women as this seems one of the roles where the percentage of men and women are more equal.

With the world rapidly changing it seems like progress for women in certain areas has remained relatively flat. Being new in this particular industry, I am very keen to hear your opinion. What are your thoughts?

Norma Warwick Smith is the Senior Consultant of Manufacturing and Life Sciences at Interim Partners.

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