-  The Manufacturing Institute, in partnership with Alcoa Foundation, hosted the second event of a STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Production) Forward networking series developed to provide women in manufacturing an opportunity to hear from women industry leaders. While women make up about 47 percent of the labor force, they only represent 27 percent of the manufacturing workforce. The Manufacturing Institute and Alcoa Foundation are committed to improve and tackle this glaring statistic through the STEP Forward series.

The STEP Forward event was held with manufacturers to discuss current strategies and develop new concepts for advancing and retaining female talent. The women heard personal advice, inspiring stories, and key takeaways from Kellie Johnson, President of ACE Clearwater Enterprises; Natalia Soukhatchevskaia, Director of Operations, Alcoa Torrance; Vicki Poponi, Vice President, Export Sales Division, American Honda Motor Company, and Jennifer McNelly, President, The Manufacturing Institute.

The STEP Forward networking series, created as part of the STEP Ahead initiative, is building on the STEP Ahead leadership pillar and encouraging participants to join the STEP Ahead Pledge. The Pledge is a commitment from women in the industry to promote the importance of manufacturing careers through a variety of options that include, advocating for the industry, mentoring young girls, developing or joining an affinity group to generate ideas and share best practices, supporting manufacturing education, and promoting personal development.

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