Women in Electronics: Planning Your Post-Pandemic Career Path
By Jessica Larson of SolopreneurJournal.com
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every industry. In electronics manufacturing specifically, women are facing many of the same issues they always have: Underrepresentation continues, and workplace policies are stacked against them. However, many women are also bearing additional burdens brought on by the recent global crisis. These include ever-shifting child care needs for mothers, in particular, and growing concerns regarding health, safety, and equity for all.
During this time of great change, it is important for women in electronics to prioritize their need for balance as they pursue their personal and professional goals and plan their post-pandemic career paths.
Use This Time to Grow
Electronics are at the forefront of innovation. However, from tech and manufacturing to sales and project management, the role of soft skills (like communication and time management) in enhancing productivity and improving relationships are often overlooked. In spite of evidence that more women in higher-level roles is essential to advancement, management positions are severely lacking in women across the electronics manufacturing industry.
For women looking to break into these roles, formal training can help. Free online leadership courses and entrepreneur sessions can help you hone your intangible expertise and leverage your skill set, while cross-training can help you stand out from the crowd. Computer science experience can translate to nearly every sector of electronics. Web development boot camps can pivot your existing skills towards app research. Software development skills can allow your existing business ideas to take shape.
Women typically also adapt more easily to change, putting them in a unique position to lead in emerging trends. Environmental sustainability is another area that is set to explode soon. Recent climate mandates will require manufacturing industries to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Therefore, knowledge of how net-zero building construction will impact the electronics sector will be vital.
Some estimates state that 400,000 new hires will be needed within the manufacturing industry to achieve global net-zero goals. Wind turbine engineers will be needed as much as data analysts. Understand the key aspects of other disciplines, especially if you’re looking to become a leader of the growing green movement. A combination of soft skills and cross-training will thus help push women to the front of the pack.
Advocate for Your Needs
Women within electronics manufacturing are reminded of gender disparity every day. For example, women make up a small percentage of higher management and executive roles. And the mass exodus of women from the general workforce has only made this worse. Home situations have changed as well. With a proven imbalance of work at the home, some women are returning to work bearing more of a burden than even before.
After COVID-19, some women have reported working up to 15 extra hours a week on home issues. Kids are learning from home, for instance, and spouses aren’t always picking up a portion of the extra work. Women, therefore, end up shouldering more responsibilities than men.
If businesses want to keep women in the workplace, they will have to adapt to the changing needs of their employees. Employers can start by asking women what they need to be successful. Would extended vacation hours help keep the kids on track? Do you provide proper nursing spaces for new mothers? Would more flexible schedules help with issues with childcare?
Remote positions can work for even specialized areas of the electronics industry. Teaching roles can shift to virtual classrooms. Even some research roles can take on hybrid schedules. So, advocate for your specific needs at the onset. The workplace environment has often been restrictive for women. It’s time for businesses to acknowledge that. It can be difficult to turn down a job when work may be scarce, but you should prioritize yourself. Reject positions that don’t come with the assistance you need to make your life work.
Focus on Your Financial Well-Being
It goes without saying, but the past year and a half have been incredibly stressful for everyone. And amid the current “she-cession,” women are bearing a large portion of the burden, including financially. For many, savings have decreased and debt has increased, due to fewer hours worked, costs associated with illness, and rising expenses. Kids need computers for virtual classes. Furthermore, daycares have been closed, which puts stress on side gigs.
Now more than ever, it’s crucial for working women to make sure their finances aren’t neglected. Having a working budget, a solid savings plan, and credit to lean on allows you to make the right career decisions for women and their families.
All of this financial planning should be done with both your personal and professional goals in mind. For example, your budget should include personal and professional development necessary to stay relevant and evolve along with the electronics industry. Likewise, your savings goal should be sizable enough to protect you in the event of job loss or future uncertainties. Having good credit alone can save you tens of thousands of dollars in credit card interest over the course of a year or the lifetime of your mortgage. And, for any would-be entrepreneurs, favorable credit will be needed to secure business loans.
Times are shifting, and new ways of thinking are driving change for women in and out of the workplace. An arsenal of skills and a mindset of advocacy for more women-friendly workplace policies is a good start. The electronics workforce is begging for the return and advancement of women. Now is the perfect time to go back stronger than ever.