It has been statistically proven that hiring more women increases productivity in workplaces, contributes to diversity, and overall benefits companies. If this is the case, why is the gender gap still so wide within the majority of industries ? And why specifically is there such a lack of women in supply chain fields?
Bridging the Gender Gap
One of the reasons for this phenomenon starts from a young age. Historically speaking, women and indeed, young girls, have been less exposed to careers within STEM fields compared to their male counterparts. There are, however, some overarching disparities and exceptions to this trend. For example, whilst on the topic of STEM careers, women make up nearly 70% of all global healthcare workers. Gender parity is increasing steadily in most countries, yet in countries such as Japan, only one in every five doctors is female.
While medical professions and careers within supply chain fields may seem dramatically different, their root is the same. Girls on the cusp of their careers may not be adequately exposed to these fields from an early age. As a simple statement of fact, their male colleagues are more likely to be encouraged to pursue more technical careers. The future (and female) demand planners of tomorrow may miss out doing something they love, simply because they were unaware that such a career path existed. To combat these statistics, it is important to change the rhetoric around what working in supply chain entails.
A Historical Breakdown
A significant factor for the prevalence of men filling supply chain jobs is due to simple historical job occupations. Men working on assembly lines, production plants, or in similar work environments were promoted into management positions. These career evolutions typically put them in charge of supply chain operations, demand planning, and the like. Not only have women been consistently passed over for these roles, they were hardly ever considered in the first place. A combination of a lack of opportunity, exposure, and education created the perfect storm of closed doors for such positions. The good news is that these statistics are changing today. There are more and more women in supply chain roles, and moving into upper management positions. The two go together, but are unfortunately not mutually exclusive.
QAD Women of Note
Within the QAD family, we have several excellent examples of female supply chain leaders within our ranks. Co-founder Pam Lopker has been at the helm of QAD since its inception in 1979. She was tasked with building software for her husband Karl Lopker’s shoe company, Deckers. Unable to find any manufacturing software to her liking, she customized and rewrote the entire program herself. This software would become the basis for QAD’s very first ERP offering. More than 35 years later, Pam is still very much an active part of QAD. A pioneer for women in the field of ERP software, she is a long-standing, influential leader. Her work and leadership have paved the way for many female peers to follow suit.
Another colleague very worthy of note is Terry Onica, Automotive Director at QAD. She is a veritable leader, policy-shaper, and industry influencer, specifically within the automotive industry. To add to her long list of accolades, she has most recently been recognized in Supply & Demand Chain Executive magazine’s annual list. She continues to shape policy and be a true reference for automotive manufacturers looking to improve their supply chains. Her take on automotive trends is even currently available on the QAD DynaSys blog!
Building the Future of Diversity Rich Supply Chains
While the number of women working in supply chain fields has slowly but steadily increased, specifically within the last five years, there is still much to be done. Women are most severely lacking representation in upper management as directors, VPs, and most noticeably at the corporate level.
The next and extremely important step is to encourage women and girls from an early age to pursue fields that otherwise may not have been available to them even just a few generations removed. It is crucial to show that just because a field may be less well-known, with fewer women working in it, does not mean that it is inaccessible to them. If anything, women are needed to forge change and push for equality, forcing the disruption that supply chain professionals know so well.