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  • Apr 21, 2022

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Breaking the glass ceiling: Women power reigns the automobiles industry

Over a decade ago, witnessing women in an automobile manufacturing unit would have been rare. Even girls who aspired to be engineers hardly chose mechanical engineering as a career option. In India, women have continually proven their excellence in the fields like entertainment, entrepreneurship, food, and IT, but the automobiles industry for decades has been seen through the prism of gender bias and assumed to be unfit for women.

But as the times have changed so has the outlook of the automobile industry towards the women workforce. Today this heavy machinery industry is making space for skilled women and is trying to provide them with equal representation in boardrooms—which were typically dominated by male employees.

Even the manufacturing units that incorporate dealing with heavy machinery employ women workforce. Both in terms of skill and capability women today can compete with their male counterparts---be it handling a shop floor or assembling cars and heavy-duty trucks.

The automobile industry is poised to grow manifolds in the coming decades owing to new trends in digital technologies, and the introduction of EVs. For the industry to achieve its dream of full electrification in vehicles in the coming decades would require a skilled workforce and automakers are already looking to tap the talented pool of women workforce to fill the labour and skill gap.

In the recent past, several leading auto brands have not only embraced diversity at the workplace but have also been flag bearers for promoting inclusivity at all levels. Tata Motors has been taking a slew of measures to cultivate a gender-diverse workplace and is creating an ecosystem that is built on supporting the women workforce at various stages of their careers.

Recently, the auto giant had 38% of women beneficiaries under its cross-functional training programme that has been introduced to benefit campus recruits from MBA and Engineering colleges. Over 1,800 women are working on the shop floor and across all plants of Tata Motors. At its Pune plant alone, Tata Motors has about 650 women working on the shop floor of the passenger vehicle plant.

British automotive marque, MG Motors operates on a hiring model of ‘maximum diversity’ in India. The company has been constant in employing female workers for the shop floors at their manufacturing plants in India. MG Motors also became the first auto company in India that manufactured 50,000th MG Hector with an all-women crew at its Halol plant.

Mahindra and Mahindra’s most popular “Pink Collars” initiative has gained wider popularity and acceptance within the industry and amongst the masses. In 2019, the renowned auto brand opened its first all-women automobile workshop in Jaipur to promote the recruitment of women in productive roles at its workshops.

The government of India is also encouraging women to come forward and attain skills to become self-reliant. Programmes like The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) are motivating the Indian youth—male and female to attain industry-relevant skill certifications that would make especially women independent.

The advent of EVs and the focus of major auto players in adopting new technologies is bound to escalate the scope for a skilled workforce in the industry. This promising future of the auto industry will create more jobs and opportunities for the women who are skilled to compete with men working in varied capacities.

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