AUSTIN, -  The National Association of Manufacturers’ Manufacturing Institute (MI) hosted a networking event today in Austin as part of its Science, Technology, Engineering and Production (STEP) Forward initiative. Our partner in this event was Arconic Foundation, which also generously co-sponsored our June event in Lancaster, PA. Just as in Lancaster, the Austin event sought to educate women about the stellar opportunities offered by the manufacturing industry. It featured a panel of industry leaders, who discussed how companies can create a welcoming, supportive environment for their female employees.

“STEP Forward brings manufacturers together to discuss strategies for acquiring and advancing female talent. These events offer women in manufacturing the opportunity to connect with their peers and learn from each other’s successes,” said MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee. “By sharing their stories, we can help women currently in the industry advance their careers, while inspiring the next generation of women to choose manufacturing careers in the first place.”

Given the talent shortage across all manufacturing sectors, finding and supporting female workers is becoming ever more important. Though women account for about half of the U.S. workforce, they hold only a little more than a quarter of all manufacturing jobs—making them the most significant source of untapped talent available. The MI created the STEP program not only because we believe that diversifying the workforce is the right thing to do, but also because we know it is essential to the American manufacturing economy.

We would like to thank the panel at the Austin event for their time and insights: Melissa Debowski, Senior Director of Talent Management & Talent Acquisition, Air Liquide; Darcie Durham, Senior Director - National Strategy and Engagement, The Boeing Company; Laurie Markoe, Vice President of Energy and Additive Manufacturing, Arconic; and Latricia Smith, Director of Strategic Talent Solutions, AT&T. Our own AJ Jorgenson, Assistant Vice President of Strategic Engagement at the Manufacturing Institute, served as the moderator.

If you know of a woman who has shown exemplary leadership in manufacturing, why not offer her the appreciation she deserves? Starting August 1, you can nominate your colleagues and peers for a STEP Ahead Award. (For more information, visit http://www.themanufacturinginstitute/women). Winners receive not only national recognition but an invitation to attend a two-day leadership program in Washington, DC.

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