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Why aren’t there more women in supply chain roles?

2014-03-07 16:20:07

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Both labor shortages and initiatives to interest young women in college and university supply chain programs continue to gain attention. So the question then becomes: Why aren’t there more women in supply chain professions—especially in leadership roles?

 

The problem doesn’t stem from a lack of interest in MBA programs. In a SCM World blog last year, Kevin O’Marah noted that the responses from more than 50 of SCM World’s university partners to a poll showed that three-quarters of supply chain programs saw an increase in female enrolment over the past five years. In fact, the median percentage of female enrolment in supply chain programs was 37 percent in the survey, which shows that supply chain studies isn’t any more or less appealing than other subjects.

 
However, when SCM World did a manual count of supply chain executives in the Fortune 500, it found only 22 women from 320 companies have a true supply chain function.
 
An article last week in the Washington Post explains that the problem isn’t attracting women to supply chain professions, it’s keeping them there. The article explains that, according to a new report titled “Athena 2.0 Factor: Accelerating Female Talent in Science, Engineering & Technology” released last week by research think tank Center for Talent Innovation (CTI), U.S. women working in these fields are 45 percent more likely than their male peers to leave the industry within a year.
 
According to the study findings, that’s because despite the aspirations of women in science, engineering and technology (SET) fields to hold a top job at their company, a sizable proportion of SET senior leaders—31 percent in the U.S, 22 percent in Brazil, 51 percent in China and 57 percent in India--report that a woman would never get a top position at their company, no matter how qualified or high performing she is. Given those numbers, it’s no surprise to further see that 72 percent of women in the U.S., 78 percent of women in Brazil, 68 percent of women in China and 81 percent of women in India in these fields perceive bias in performance evaluations.
 
Finally, 44 percent of U.S. women also reported feeling as though they were being judged against male leadership standards. That requires them to walk the tricky line between aggressiveness and assertiveness that can often derail women’s careers, the report notes.
 
“Their intent to leave these companies clearly isn’t because these women are afraid of hard work,” says Laura Sherbin, director of research for CTI. “But they feel stalled in their careers, and this feeling of being stalled turns into a massive lack of hope.”
 
Despite that discouraging news, there are bright spots in the report. For example, fewer women in this year’s study said they are the only woman on their teams. What’s more, 80 percent or more of women in each country said they love their work. Finally, more than half of U.S. women, as well as even greater majorities in emerging markets, report having ambitions to have an executive job at their company.
 
So, ultimately, around the world, there is high demand for top SET talent but short supply. Women are central to the solution because they comprise nearly half of the SET talent pipeline worldwide. “The success of our global economy depends on our ability to develop and leverage high-performing women,” says Sylvia Ann Hewlett, founder and president of CTI, in the report.
 
Source: Jim Fulcher's Blog