Manufacturing Institute
Celebrating Women in Manufacturing

Celebrating Women in Manufacturing

Oct. 1, 2020
“At a time when manufacturers still face a workforce crisis, women constitute less than one-third of manufacturing workers," says Carolyn Lee of the Manufacturing Institute.

The Manufacturing Institute’s 8th annual STEP Ahead Awards program recently recognized 130 women leaders who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers in science, technology, engineering and production. The leaders represent all levels of the manufacturing industry, from the factory floor to the C-suite.   

“At a time when manufacturers still face a workforce crisis, and with women constituting less than one-third of manufacturing workers, honoring women leaders in the modern manufacturing industry and inspiring more women to enter the field is as important as it’s ever been,” said Manufacturing Institute's Executive Director Carolyn Lee. “Providing more opportunities for women in manufacturing is more than just the right thing to do; it’s clearly critical to the future of our industry and the economy.

Women constitute one of manufacturing’s largest pools of untapped talent. While women totaled 47% of the U.S. labor force in 2016, only 29% of the manufacturing workforce.

“Manufacturing in the future may not look like it does today, but it will be around, and there will be opportunities for professional growth for all workers,” said STEP Chair Erika Peterman, BASF senior vice president for chemical intermediates North America. “STEP Ahead will continue to provide programs and forums that foster and encourage females to enter the world of manufacturing and pursue their careers.”

The STEP Ahead Awards is part of the MI’s STEP Women’s Initiative, which promotes the role of women in the manufacturing industry through recognition, research and leadership for attracting, advancing and retaining strong female talent.  

And strong female talent has a long historic tie to the industry.

 “The most famous symbol of manufacturing in America is a woman, Rosie the Riveter. Rosie inspired women to work in America’s arsenal of democracy during WWII," said Lee. "Today, manufacturers have mobilized to fight a new war, against COVID-19. . . . And that wouldn’t be possible without a dedicated, talented, innovative and diverse workforce. And that includes the women we honor here tonight, who will inspire a new generation.”

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