On April 11th, 2019, the Manufacturing Institute recognized Kelli Gregory and 129 other women at the sixth annual Women in Manufacturing STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Ahead Awards in Washington, D.C. As recipients of the STEP Ahead Awards honor, the women represent leaders in manufacturing at all levels while demonstrating direction in their companies and communities.
Leaders in Manufacturing Who Inspire
The Manufacturing Institute’s STEP Ahead Awards “provide today’s female leaders in manufacturing the recognition they deserve while simultaneously elevating role models who can inspire future generations to join them.”
The awards are part of the larger, overreaching STEP Ahead movement aimed at overcoming the challenges facing manufacturers. The movement is especially crucial at a time when manufacturers face a workforce crisis, with women still making up less than a third of manufacturing workers.
“Providing more opportunities for women in manufacturing is more than just the right thing to do,” said Carolyn Lee, Executive Director of The Manufacturing Institute. “It’s clearly critical to the future of our industry and the economy.”
Although the manufacturing industry is doing well right now and more than nine out of 10 manufacturers are optimistic about the future (according to a National Association of Manufacturers survey), it is not the time to sit back. The same survey revealed that seven out of 10 manufacturers are concerned about finding skilled talent to fulfill their workforce. This is a valid concern, considering right now more than half of all manufacturing jobs are unfilled.
STEP Ahead was specifically launched to promote the role of women in manufacturing through recognition and research, fostering a 21st century manufacturing workforce.
The stories of the STEP Ahead women and the leadership they show both inspire next-generation, future female leaders in manufacturing and support current female leaders within the industry.
And the initiative is working. In only five years, STEP Ahead Award winners have impacted more than 300,000 individuals – from school children to peers in the industry. Over 800 women have been honored for excellence in their careers and in leadership in the industry.
The Future of the Leaders in Manufacturing Workforce
Currently, women are under-represented in the manufacturing industry and only make up 29% of the industry’s workforce. This makes women the largest pool of untapped talent and leaders in manufacturing, which also makes them a critical factor in closing the skills gap.
The STEP Ahead initiative continues to support and encourage women to become leaders in manufacturing and inspire others to pursue the amazing career opportunities available in this industry.
Organizations in the manufacturing industry can join the STEP Ahead initiative, starting by taking the Step Ahead Pledge. For more information about the STEP Ahead Awards, please contact STEPahead@nam.org.
For more information about chemical manufacturing: https://www.dixiechemical.com/leader-in-specialty-chemicals/chemical-manufacturing/
About Dixie Chemical Company
Since 1946, Dixie Chemical has been committed to manufacturing high-quality, high-performance chemical products that improve our world. With 300 customers in 25 countries, Dixie Chemical, a member of IACMI, is a proven partner for open innovation in thermoset materials, alkaline paper sizing, and fuel and lube markets.