The following is an excerpt from an expansive article on Women in Fenestration, included in the company’s May/June issue.

Statistics show that women actively avoid male-dominated industries. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, in the U.S., only 6.5% of women worked full-time in male-dominated occupations in 2020. Now, with the influence of COVID-19, those numbers could be even worse. So far as fenestration is concerned, there’s no hard data to go on, but female representation “is generally similar to the manufacturing industry overall,” says Annie Zipfel, chief marketing officer and senior vice president for Andersen Corp.

“In manufacturing, women make up about 27% of production roles and 28% of business roles,” Zipfel says. Despite year-over-year improvements, women remain underrepresented in the field, she says, and representation decreases among leadership positions. “This is especially true for women of color, with even smaller representation at every level,” she adds.

“Amid the pandemic, we lost quite a few ladies from our industry,” adds Rosalie Leone, CEO and executive director for the World Millwork Alliance. “And they didn’t go to other millwork companies. We just lost them.”

With labor shortages and plenty of available positions, the opportunities for women are abundant throughout the fenestration, millwork and manufacturing industries, Leone and others suggest. The question is: Why aren’t they taking them?

A study conducted by the Women in Manufacturing Association found that 68% of all women surveyed would not consider manufacturing as a career path because they saw it as a male-dominated field where they couldn’t advance. At the same time, a separate survey from the Deloitte and Manufacturing Institute found that 75% of women view the manufacturing sector as possibly rewarding and fun. Why the juxtaposition? In a single word, the most likely answer is probably: history.

Research shows that male-dominated occupations are particularly vulnerable to reinforcing harmful stereotypes and creating environments that make it difficult for women to excel.

“Women have to work twice as hard to always prove themselves,” Leone says.

But things have improved drastically, over the years, according to many women interviewed by [DWM]. When Bonnie Davis, vice president of Jeld-Wen’s Excellence Model (JEM) transformation, came into the industry 33 years ago, “It did feel strange,” she admits. These days, the company has “female business leaders, female plant managers, female manufacturing managers and production managers,” she says. There are three women on Jeld-Wen’s board of directors and a woman on its senior leadership team. In the past three years, the company’s CEO Leadership Awards have gone to female leaders.

“I did see that transition over time,” Davis says. “I think maybe the last 10 years it’s really changed, from what I personally see. I’ve always tried to be the person who sees people for the value they bring to the table. I think our whole society is starting to get better at that.”

To read more about women in fenestration, go to the full article in [DWM] magazine.


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