- Daily Zen
Logistics and supply chain is a male-dominated field in STEM. A survey by Gartner and Achieving Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management & Education (AWESOME) found that about 39% of full-time employees in a supply chain role are female, up from 35% in 2016. As Industry Leaders Magazine noted earlier, changes can be seen now but unless we actively prioritize the gender inequality and pay parity, the problem will not solve itself.
Companies that succeed to attract, retain and recognize female talent as a part of their talent management strategies seem to face a fresh set of challenges. What’s interesting to note is that these drawbacks do not result from perception bias. A study by SCM World noted that 74% of men think that women’s natural skills differ from men – and that women’s skill sets are highly regarded in the supply chain management (see Figure 1). These skills include multi-tasking, communication, collaboration, and influence.
In the fast-paced world of supply chain management, excelling at these skills would suggest that more women would hold senior-level positions. But as we move close to the top of the supply chain organizational chart the disparity becomes increasingly apparent at senior levels. For instance, women account for just 11% of supply chain executives, the Gartner research shows.
There has been a lot of enthusiasm, commitment and money going into many initiatives to get women into supply chain and logistics, but the results are far from satisfactory.
Young professionals oftentimes refrain from applying to jobs in supply chain management as they are told that the industry is too rough and tough for females. This is not a gender issue; it is a broader societal issue one cannot change singlehandedly. But collectively, employers, educators, government administrators and not-for-profit organizations can do better and give girls and young women more exposure to supply chain management jobs, female role models, and career awareness and planning.
A 2018 study by Microsoft found that girls and young women who know a woman in a STEM profession are more likely to feel empowered when they engage in STEM activities (61 percent) than those who don’t know a woman in a STEM profession (44 percent) (see Figure 2).
We need more female mentors and role models in supply chain and logistics industry in order to tip the scales in favor of gender-balanced workforce. With more exposure to positive role models, young professionals could find women that they can relate to and aspire to be.