Dr. Wendy Tate, associate professor of supply chain management at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville and an AWESOME network member, was featured in an article in the online publication Spend Matters titled “Why Is There a Dearth of Female Supply Chain Students?”
The article, written by Sydney Lazarus, quotes Dr. Tate as saying, “Three or four years ago, about 40% of our enrolled students were female. And then, that decreased to about 20% in a really short period of time.” This significant drop occurred even though overall enrollment is as high as ever in UT-Knoxville’s highly regarded supply chain program.
One theory is that supply chain still has a reputation as a “man’s field.” Dr. Tate says, “There’s a lot of misinformation on what supply chain is.”
She also mentioned a quiz taken recently by a group of students, including female supply chain students, which was set up to identify strengths. According to Dr. Tate, the women’s strengths were what she expected – ability to collaborate and empathize – but they were not strong in confidence and self-esteem.
She advises women to work on what isn’t their strength. She said, “I try to [help them] work on analytical skills. It really is the women who say, ‘Oh I don’t like math.’ You’ve got to stop saying that! That’s the number one thing. We’re in an analytical world, and you’ve got to learn to love numbers.”
According to Dr. Tate, there is a bright side: “Our recruiters specifically want more women because they want diversity or they’re required to have more diversity in their workforce.”