Manufacturing leaders call for more women to join their ranks


Headland Technology co-founder and AMTIL director Dianne Kloe added, “There is 43% female representation in the new firm, we would like to see the industry strive to achieve something similar over the of the next decade.

With unemployment at a 48-year low of 3.5% and skills shortages stifling growth opportunities for companies across a range of industries, adding more women to the talent pool would also be a welcome increase in labor for manufacturers.

The National Skills Commission has estimated that there will be 23,100 new jobs in the sector that will need to be filled to meet customer demand by November 2026, in addition to existing vacancies.

One of the first women to hold a leadership position in manufacturing in Australia, Ms Kloe said sexism was common at the start of her career but was improving.

“The highs of manufacturing in the 1980s reflected the whole industry very well, being male-dominated,” the former teacher said.

“It was a worldwide phenomenon. when we [Ms Kloe and Headland co-founder and husband Peter] traveled to Japan for business, one of the partners we visited at first assumed that I was the secretary.

“They didn’t want to negotiate with me. I said, “Well, you’re going to have to because I’m the co-owner of the business.”

But she said advanced manufacturing was “a great place” for women wanting to advance quickly in business, saying the sector was growing and “the opportunities are there” for those who want it.

Catten Industries CEO Latinka Cubitt has followed Ms Kloe’s path in manufacturing and also wants to see more progress towards gender equity.

“Regardless of the knowledge and qualifications held by women in industry – in commerce, engineering, design, administration – many men still prefer to speak to another man when making enquiries” , she warned.

“Change is slow no matter how badly everyone wants it to happen. That said, when you know your craft, have the passion, the determination, and a little laugh, you will succeed every time.

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