GE Plans to Employ 20,000 Women in STEM Roles, Bolstering Gender Diversity in Transportation

In Rail & Mass Transit, Rail Lubrication, Transportation by Eric Vantiegham

As companies in STEM fields continue to work to close the gender divide, GE is making an ambitious push to bring more women into the fold.

General Electric is making waves with a recent initiative intended to tackle the continuing shortage of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Earlier this year, the company announced its intention to employ 20,000 women in STEM positions and reach equal gender representation in all of its entry-level technical programs by 2020.

Despite making up a roughly equal share of the greater workforce, the most recent Census Bureau data indicates that women comprise only 24% of the total STEM workforce. GE believes this disparity is bad for innovation across STEM sectors and hampers the country’s competitive edge. As such, the company has set this ambitious goal to “inject urgency” into the fight to close the STEM gender gap and “fully transform GE into a digital industrial company.”

 GE’s Efforts for Parity

This recent push is only one step in a long journey that GE, with more than 15,000 women currently in technical entry-level positions, has taken towards gender parity. In light of its ambitious goal, GE will invest further in career development initiatives like the Edison Engineering Development Program (EEDP), which already boasts an equal gender ratio among its participants.

Hoping to capture potential engineers early in their careers, GE believes this program can drive female engineers towards long careers in the field. The company also encourages female employees to participate in their internal Women’s Network, which fosters leadership skills and trains female employees to navigate an often male-dominated work culture.

Making a bigger push for public support of women in STEM is another priority of GE’s. The company has taken steps to expand “GE Girls,” an initiative designed to get high school girls interested in pursuing degrees in STEM fields. The company has also promoted its campaign for gender equality on the airwaves, paying forTV ads that ask viewers, “What if female scientists were treated like celebrities?” GE hopes their advertising blitz can attract women not only to GE, but to all STEM employers.

 Women and Transportation

As in other STEM fields, women are underrepresented across the transportation industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women made up only 10% of the rail industry workforce, and only 24% of the general transportation sector in 2016. Given the company’s large transportation department, GE’s push for 20,000 female STEM employees could help diversify the industry.

Diane Jones, chairwoman of the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS), a global organization that promotes the advancement of women in transportation, has applauded the initiative as a step in the right direction. WTS, which boasts 74 chapters across the U.S., offers networking opportunities, career development, and mentoring. Like GE, the seminar aims to encourage young women to pursue STEM-related fields with an increased presence on college campuses.

How Midwest Is Pitching in

Across all industries, diverse perspectives and gender parity are essential to innovation and profitability. At Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc., we’re similarly committed to employing broadly and diversely so as to ensure the products we engineer and managed services we provide for our clients in the transportation industry always meet our own unparalleled standards of quality.

We first started tackling rail and mass transit issues back in 1975 and we’ve become a trusted partner for rail and mass transit organizations ever since. Our affordable and reliable switch lubrication solutions are designed to not only prevent delays and accidents, but save the time and money needed for constant reapplication and maintenance.

Take our cutting-edge track switch agent, Glidex®, which is used to lubricate railroad switches, slide plates, movable bridges, and more. Glidex’s lab-engineered formula is non-flammable, non-corrosive, and safe and effective in any weather conditions.

When you need to ensure that your rail line stays operational all year long, trust in Midwest and our talented team of experts to get it done right.

Eric Vantiegham is Midwest’s Rail & Transit Specialist. Skilled in product development, new business development, and strategic planning, he enjoys playing ice hockey and coaching his boys' youth teams.