Manufacturing faces a serious skills gap. Part of this gap is the underrepresentation of women in the industry.Women make up about 47 percent of the labor force, but only 27 percent of the manufacturing workforce. To help improve upon this, The Manufacturing Institute is promoting the role of women in manufacturing through the STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Production) Ahead initiative, which serves to mentor and recognize women while also leading research efforts tackling this important topic.

The Manufacturing Institute launched the STEP Ahead initiative in 2012 to celebrate women in the manufacturing industry that are making a difference through advocacy, mentorship, engagement, promotion, and leadership. The STEP Ahead Awards highlight the achievements of real women in manufacturing on a national stage with a formal gala to celebrate their accomplishments. The 2017 STEP Ahead Awards will take place from April 19 through April 21, with the Awards Dinner Gala on the night of April 20 in Washington, D.C.

STEP Ahead calls upon these women to advocate for the manufacturing industry, mentor young women/girls, engage an affinity group to generate ideas and share best practices, promote personal development, and lead as an ambassador for manufacturing education.

                                                

The Manufacturing Institute released a new toolkit, LEAD: Becoming an Impactful Voice to the Next Generation of Talent, for women in manufacturing to reach the next generation of talent by being ambassadors for the industry. The LEAD toolkit provides everything women need to begin engaging with female students and other young women in their region who will be entering the workforce.

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