Dreamstime/Varina and Jay Patel
Creating a more diverse workforce can help to overcome the current labor shortages many industries are facing.

How Do We Attract More Women to Fluid Power and STEM?

March 8, 2023
Creating a more diverse workforce by attracting women and other underrepresented groups can benefit industries and help to overcome current labor shortages.

In honor of International Women’s Day, I thought I would revisit one of my blogs from last year discussing how fluid power and other industries we cover go about shaping the future workforce.

The original blog was prompted by powertrain manufacturer Cummins Inc. naming its first female president and CEO in the company’s 100-year history, Jennifer Rumsey. She has spent the majority of her career at Cummins, starting on the research and technology side where she helped with a variety of technology developments including those to aid with zero-emissions efforts.

READ the original blog: How do We Shape the Future Workforce?

Rumsey will provide the keynote address at the Green Truck Summit, held in conjunction with The Work Truck Show as part of Work Truck Week, where she will discuss current alternative energy solutions under development at Cummins and in the commercial vehicle industry as a whole.   

Recognizing women leaders like Rumsey is beneficial to women and other underrepresented groups because it shows there are others like them in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) related fields. It helps to not only show there are others like them in this field but that it can be a good, long-term career.

As someone who has covered a portion of the engineering field for the past decade, I have seen some progress in the number of women leaders at companies we cover such as Ramsey or Astrid Mozes at Danfoss Power Solutions who has held several leadership positions during her career in fluid power. However, I still find the majority of my interviews are with men – which is not to say they are not valuable, but rather a reflection of the lack of diversity in the engineering field, and particularly fluid power.

Even as a member of the media, I have found myself to be one of the few – and sometimes the only – woman in attendance at events. In my early days it could at times feel intimidating to be one of the only women at an event, but thankfully the industry I am in and those I cover have been welcoming…an aspect I am lucky to have experienced as that is unfortunately not the case for everyone.

All of this is said in an effort not to downplay the work of men in STEM fields but rather emphasize the ongoing need to make these fields more diverse. And as many have pointed out over the past year or so, attracting more diversity into these fields will help to overcome the labor shortages so many industries are facing.  

Industry Initiatives aim to Assist

So how do we bring more women and other underrepresented groups into fluid power and STEM fields as well as other related industries? That is an ongoing question, but one many initiatives from industry groups and companies are looking to help answer. For instance, in September Danfoss announced the appointment of Robin Carter-Cooper to lead the company’s talent and diversity & inclusion initiatives. To this role she’ll bring her experience in creating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workforce to help the company's own efforts to improve in this area.

At next week’s CONEXPO & IFPE shows, 29 educational sessions will be focused on workforce issues. On Tuesday, March 14, the session entitled “Practical Tips for Diversifying Your Workforce” will offer expert advice to construction professionals about improving their DEI initiatives by providing practical tips for doing so. Also held on March 14 will be a session hosted by the National Fluid Power Association (NFPA) about the importance of early recruitment to aid with workforce shortages as there is a strong need not only for a diverse labor pool but also one which includes younger generations to help fill the gaps being left by those retiring from fluid power and other industries.

Visit our IFPE channel for all content related to one of the year's largest events for the fluid power and motion control industries.

On Wednesday, March 15, there will be a session called “Bold Leadership for Women” during which women leaders from the construction industry will participate in a panel discussion about their experiences and advice for working in a male-dominated industry. The session “Women in the Workforce: Recruit, Retain, and Promote” will be held Friday, March 17 and look at ways to help attract women into the construction industry – though the advice is applicable to a variety of other industries as well.

View the full schedule of CONEXPO & IFPE 2023 educational sessions.

Coinciding with International Women’s Day is Women in Construction Week which goes from March 5-11 and looks to recognize the women working in construction while helping to encourage more to enter the industry. Like fluid power, manufacturing and a number of other industries, construction is facing a shortage of skilled labor entering the market. Women could help fill this gap, but to date they make up less than 11% of the construction workforce according to statistics from The National Association of Women in Construction

In conjunction with Women in Construction Week, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) is highlighting the various sessions that will take place at CONEXPO which spotlight women in construction. Besides the educational sessions already noted, there will be panel discussions and meetups throughout the week of CONEXPO with women making an impact in the construction industry. Among these will be a session on March 16 in the new Community Zone with two teachers who left the public school system and entered the construction field where they are working to bring updated methods for professional development and remove the stigma associated with the industry.

Read more about this and other related events taking place at CONEXPO in AEM’s press release. And if you haven’t registered yet for the show, use code PR20 to save 20% on your registration.

READ MORE from Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M), an Endeavor Business Media partner site: Why More Women Are Entering the Construction Profession.

For our part, we are working with the other publications in our parent company’s Design & Engineering group to highlight the challenges and potential solutions related diversifying the workforce through our Workers in Science & Engineering (WISE) initiative—recently rebranded from Women in Science & Engineering to better reflect the broader representation issues in these industries. Via webinars, articles, video interviews and more, our team aims to shine a light not only on the need for more diversity within these fields but also the accomplishments of those currently working in them.

Visit our WISE page for content related to this ongoing coverage initiative.

We want to hear from you!

What efforts are you seeing to attract women and others to the fluid power and related industries? What do you think the industry could be doing better to or more of to help with this? What other workforce initiatives are you seeing in the industry and what benefits are they providing?

Let us know! Email me at [email protected] or reach out to us on social media

Twitter: @TechnlgyEditor or @PowerMotionTech

LinkedIn: @PowerMotionTech

Editor’s Note: Power & Motion's WISE (Workers in Science and Engineering) hub compiles our coverage of workplace issues affecting the engineering field, in addition to contributions from equity seeking groups and subject matter experts within various subdisciplines.

About the Author

Sara Jensen | Technical Editor, Power & Motion

Sara Jensen is technical editor of Power & Motion, directing expanded coverage into the modern fluid power space, as well as mechatronic and smart technologies. She has over 15 years of publishing experience. Prior to Power & Motion she spent 11 years with a trade publication for engineers of heavy-duty equipment, the last 3 of which were as the editor and brand lead. Over the course of her time in the B2B industry, Sara has gained an extensive knowledge of various heavy-duty equipment industries — including construction, agriculture, mining and on-road trucks —along with the systems and market trends which impact them such as fluid power and electronic motion control technologies. 

You can follow Sara and Power & Motion via the following social media handles:

X (formerly Twitter): @TechnlgyEditor and @PowerMotionTech

LinkedIn: @SaraJensen and @Power&Motion

Facebook: @PowerMotionTech

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