Baby boomers are gradually leaving the workforce and manufacturing businesses are having trouble finding the right skill set, despite the growing number of people in the labor market.

As companies grapple to fill positions, women represent one pool of workers that is often overlooked. While women make up nearly 50 percent of the U.S. workforce, they comprise only one-quarter of all durable goods manufacturing employees, according to a recent study by consulting firm Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute. In addition, only 3.8 percent of CEOs in the industry are women.

Women earn more than half of all associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees in the country. In the work world occupy more than half of all U.S. managerial and professional positions, and manufacturing could see a larger portion of this leadership talent.

In terms of marketing, consumers appreciate companies with a diverse workforce. Suppliers and partners also expect to see a strong mix of identities when engaging in business with other organizations.

The biggest hindrance to an increase of women in manufacturing is stigma, Andy Preissner, a human resource administration professional at stainless steel maker A to Z Machine Co. in Wisconsin, told Workforce magazine.

In the three years Preissner has worked at A to Z, only one woman has applied for a skilled production job.

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