With today being International Women’s Day, LG Davis’ Liz Smith is trying to raise awareness of the opportunities that exist for women in the print industry and to encourage more female apprentices to enter the sector.

Ms Smith, who is the managing director of the Birmingham-based print, stationery and branded merchandise supplier, commented, ‘As a woman in print I have found myself in the past at business conferences where I am the only woman in the room. A lot has been done more recently to change the gender gap and steps have been made in the right direction but in 2022 women are still very much under-represented in senior management and executive roles. If print is to continue to grow and evolve we need to raise awareness of the industry and continue to create more diversity in the workforce.’

The MD, who has clocked up almost 40 years of experience working in print, pointed to 2019 statistics from the BPIF that show that only 31% of workers within the industry are female, that women are less likely to have production roles than their male counterparts and that a pay gap persists between the genders.

Ms Smith’s solution is to provide more opportunities for young women to enter print. She has put her money where her mouth is by hiring a 19 year old female apprentice and is encouraging other companies to follow suit. ‘The print sector is a very traditional industry and like many manufacturing industries more needs to be done to specifically target and raise awareness of the benefits to women,’ she said. ‘Having flexible working hours, more part-time roles and greater awareness of how the industry works will all help. What we need is a big shakeup in the industry to bring in new innovative young people and a more diverse managerial team.’

Dawn Reid, the BPIF’s regional director for the Midlands, added, ‘A big problem is perception due to our sector being a male-dominated one, much like most manufacturing. A lot has been done since I started in the industry to offer more flexibility in working hours, more diverse and accessible roles, and we are starting to see a difference. However, we need to continue to ensure we raise the awareness and visibility of women in our industry to break the bias. We need to create greater awareness of the opportunities and innovation in the industry to encourage more young people generally and more women in particular to join.’

The theme for International Women’s Day this year is ‘Beat the Bias’, and the day will celebrate women’s achievements as well as the challenges they face when it comes to gender equality and women’s rights. International Men’s Day will take place on 19 November and will celebrate the achievements of men.