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Breaking the Mold in Manufacturing


Today is International Women’s Day, a great occasion to celebrate women’s contributions to manufacturing, but also to take a step back and measure how our industry fares on gender equality. According to Deloitte, even though women totaled about 47 percent of the US labor force in 2016, they are only 29 percent of the manufacturing workforce. The good news is that things seem to be improving. For example, the number of women that would encourage their daughter or female family member to pursue a career in manufacturing increased 18% between 2015 and 2017 to 42%. However, at Tulip we believe that there is always room for improvement.

This is why we made diversity one of our Five Resolutions for Manufacturing in 2018, encouraging our customers to make it part of their priorities for this year. Furthermore, this month we’re hosting a “Women in Manufacturing” meetup on March 21st, to celebrate National Rosie the Riveter day with a panel discussion with powerful women in the industry. However, our most important contribution to this issue is through our platform itself.

Overcoming bias with data

I recently had the chance to visit one of our customers, a global manufacturing leader. We spent the day interviewing people throughout the factory, from top level management to associates in the shopfloor learning about the different ways in which they benefit from using Tulip. Speaking with one of the associates of an assembly line, she explained that she has spent her entire manufacturing career feeling inferior to men because her work wasn’t being objectively quantified and compared to her male peers. Now, thanks to the data that Tulip collects, she said “I can show I can keep up with the guys. I’m doing parts that the men would do”.

This was a great surprise to me. At Tulip we pride ourselves on giving data that can help manufacturers gain visibility of their operations, identify issues earlier and do real-time continuous improvement, but it had never occurred to me that the data could help overcome gender biases as well.

Of course, this makes total sense. Having data allows managers to make more objective hiring, promotion and compensation decisions, as well as provide better training and feedback to their teams. Given that 71% of women in manufacturing consider that standards of performance differ for men and women, we’re proud to see Tulip make a positive impact.

A recent article from the Deputy Director of UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) argued that “the past three industrial revolutions contributed to cementing gender stereotypes that place both men and women in restrictive roles.” As Tulip grows, I’m excited to see all the different ways in which our technology continues to help break down those stereotypes. Happy International Women’s Day!

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Note: Thanks to Carly Nix and Angie Lin for their comments and suggestions on this post.

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