International Women’s Day – Choose to Challenge
International Women’s Day is March 8, 2021. This year’s theme is Choose to Challenge. “Clearly women at all levels contribute to a higher manner to an organization achieving its high goals,” said Dwain Celistan, an author of a white paper titled Making Diversity Work: Changing times, mindsets and strategies in the technology and professional services industries. “It’s the organization’s willingness to enable women in all levels to reach their capabilities.”
The electrical industry historically has been more male dominated and in recent years has been challenged to increase the number of women coming into the industry.
Egret created an annual Women in Industry newsletter from 2005 – 2013 and again in 2018. In honor of International Women’s Day we took a look at the numbers again.
Percentage of women attendance each year at the National NAED:
|2005 – 6.7%
||2011 – 7.4%
|2006 – 5.8%
||2012 – 8.4%
|2007 – 5.8%
||2013 – 9.2%
|2008 – 6.5%
||2018 – 10%
|2009 – 7.9%
||2019 – 13%
|2010 – 8.3%
Of NAED’s total membership, 19% of its members are female, which suggests that women are less likely to attend conferences. NAED started a Women in Industry conference a little over 12 years ago. Attendance has grown. In 2019 they had 465 attendees, of which, 95% were female. In 2020 they had 546 attendees at their virtual conference, 95% again were females.
In other associations within the electrical industry, Wire Association International shows that only about 5% of the membership and the show attendance are women. At the 2019 Electrical Wire Processing Technology Expo, 367 of the 2,948 attendees (12.4%) were female.
We can look at Egret’s own information. We have 119,000 electrical industry people across all functions in our database. This has been cultivated over the last 21 years. We can identify 20% are women. This number is consistent with other electrical industry data. That compares to 47% of women in other industries nationally.
As we move forward, we must strive to bring more women into the electrical industry. It has to start in education. There are STEM learning opportunities in Elementary, Junior High and High School. We need to expose young girls to math and science and create both in and out of school workshops to attract them and grow their interest. As women pursue higher education in Science, Technology and Engineering, a concentrated effort must be made to recruit them out of college. It is widely recognized that the workforce is aging and will be retiring in the coming years. Inclusion must be at the forefront of college graduate recruitment as they enter the industry. This is where organizational culture comes into play. Both in entry level roles and in the retainment of mid and senior level executives. Does your company have an organizational culture that trains and mentors both female and male employees equally? What do you do to listen to your female employees? How do you know that females in your company feel that their voice is being heard? What are you doing daily to make sure that you truly understand the needs and issues that are important to women? Newsflash – they differ from those of males. What are your organization’s wage comparisons between male and female employees in the same role? As males and females are promoted, what is the wage comparison increase in the role they are stepping into? Do women in your organization feel that they are being given the same opportunity for advancement as males? Are women allowed the same opportunities to negotiate their compensation in your company as their male counterparts?
There is no immediate or easy ‘fix’ to creating a truly diverse workforce. It can, however, start with the decision to Choose to Challenge ourselves. This is your open challenge to start now!