St. Louis, Missouri, -  The National Association of Manufacturers’ Manufacturing Institute (MI) today hosted an event in St. Louis as part of its Science, Technology, Engineering and Production (STEP) Forward networking series. In partnership with Eaton Corporation, the event promoted the numerous opportunities available for women in the manufacturing industry and featured a panel of key industry leaders focused on developing strategies to lead working cultures where women can thrive.

“The STEP Forward networking series represents one of the many ways STEP is working to change the perception of the opportunities in modern manufacturing and to encourage more women to imagine themselves as tomorrow’s manufacturers,” said MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee. “By sharing the stories of real women who represent the changing face of manufacturing, we can demonstrate the opportunities available in manufacturing right now, and by providing companies with the tools to support women early on in their careers, we can help inspire the next generation of talent to pursue careers in the industry moving forward.”

Companies across the United States agree there is a talent shortage in manufacturing. There are about 451,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs going unfilled right now, often because there simply are not enough qualified applicants to fill them, and about 2 million of the manufacturing jobs that are expected to be open by 2025 may go unfilled, too, unless something is done to address this so-called “skills gap.” At the same time, while women may be about half of the U.S. labor force, they represent only slightly more than a quarter of the manufacturing workforce. The STEP program recognizes that bringing more women into manufacturing is more than just the right thing to do—it’s also critical to the future of one of America’s most iconic industries and thus the broader economy as a whole.

STEP Forward is part of the MI’s broader STEP Ahead initiative to empower and recruit women in manufacturing. The program mobilizes attendees to act as a catalyst for change within their company and their community. The networking series serves to provide attendees with an opportunity to hear from industry leaders, connect with their peers, and learn best practices and solutions to attract and retain women in the industry.

The panel was moderated by MI Assistant Vice President of Strategic Engagement AJ Jorgenson and featured Laura Loepker, financial operations controller for Eaton’s B-Line Business; Juni Myers, process engineer for Brewer Science; and Vicki Dawkins, president – Hermetic Motor for Emerson.

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The Manufacturing Institute (the Institute) is the 501(c)(3) affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers. As a non-partisan organization, the Institute is committed to delivering leading-edge information and services to the nation’s manufacturers. The Institute is the authority on the attraction, qualification and development of world-class manufacturing talent. For more information, please visit

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