Closing the Gap: Empowering Women and People of Color in Manufacturing

In the coming decade, the United States faces a significant challenge: filling nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs while potentially leaving 2 million unfilled due to a lack of trained individuals. However, a solution lies in attracting more women and people of color to the field. In 2022, the manufacturing workforce consisted of 10.8% Black or African American, 17.4% Hispanic or Latino, and 29.3% women. These figures underscore the urgent need for more targeted recruiting efforts.

The Solution: Inclusion and Education

A New Perspective

Inclusion of women and underrepresented populations is a timely and necessary strategy to bridge the skills gap in manufacturing. The Toyota USA Foundation has partnered with the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity Education Foundation (NAPEEF) to create tools and strategies for educators and recruiters, aiming to attract more students to careers in advanced manufacturing.

Best Practices for Success

Nine Best Practices

NAPEEF’s Make the Future™ Initiative identified nine best practices to increase the participation and retention of women and people of color in STEM-related programs and Career and Technical Education (CTE) leading to manufacturing careers.

Case Studies

The three case studies delved into several key research questions:

  1. Influences on Career Exploration: What influences women to explore manufacturing careers?
  2. Alignment with Best Practices: How do recruiting practices align with the nine best practices?
  3. AMT Program Experience: What are women’s experiences in the AMT program classroom and on the job site?
  4. Impact of Increased Participation: How has the increase in women’s participation changed perceptions, added value to the classroom and workplace teams, and changed the program’s culture?
  5. Addressing Gaps and Barriers: What gaps and barriers still exist, and how are programs actively working to address them?

Comprehensive Recruiting Strategy

The studies confirmed the need for a comprehensive, collaborative, regional recruiting strategy to increase women’s participation in AMT programs.

Inspiring Exploration

Exploration Strategies

Expanding Influence

  • Early Exposure to STEM: Young women exposed to STEM programs and courses often cite these experiences as major influencers leading them to AMT programs.
  • Personal Recruitment: Personal connections and repeated visits to students are key influencers in their decision to enroll.
  • Challenges with Single-Gender Activities: Due to concerns around Title IX regulations, recruiters are hesitant to target specific groups for recruiting, affecting the effectiveness of single-gender activities.
  • Showcasing Women in Manufacturing: Showcasing women during recruiting events and providing hands-on experiences with women AMTs are influential.
  • Missed Opportunity: There’s a missed opportunity in not leveraging women leaders at partner manufacturers for recruitment efforts.
  • Partnerships with Local Schools: Partnering with local schools and developing educational pipelines can provide repeated exposure and hands-on experiences.
  • Early Pipeline Development: Initiatives starting in middle school can help retain young women interested in STEM, providing a pathway to the AMT program and advanced manufacturing careers.
  • Engaging Parents: Many students are inspired by their parents, so engaging parents in recruiting efforts can positively impact enrollment.


These case studies highlight the importance of a multifaceted approach to recruiting women into AMT programs. By addressing these research questions and implementing the insights gained, programs can increase women’s participation, ultimately bridging the gender gap in manufacturing.

Learn more about Make the Future, Connecting Girls to Manufacturing!