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MI Announces 2021 STEP Honorees

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The Manufacturing Institute has announced its newest cohort of extraordinary female leaders in manufacturing: the 130 Honorees of the 2021 STEP Ahead Awards. On Nov. 4, the MI will recognize their achievements at an in-person gala in Washington, D.C.

An industry-wide honor: These yearly awards, part of the MI’s STEP Women’s Initiative, recognize women in manufacturing who exemplify excellence from the factory floor to the C-suite.

  • To date, the awards have honored 932 exceptional women, and the winners have made an impact—through mentoring, programs and events and more—on 300,000 people, from industry peers to kids in school.

The whole initiative: The STEP (science, technology, engineering and production) Women’s Initiative consists of the STEP Ahead Awards, a professional leadership-development program and regional STEP Forward events that take place throughout the year. It aims to boost women’s representation in manufacturing and support the next generation of female talent.

Why it matters: Women make up close to half the U.S. labor force, yet they account for less than one-third of the manufacturing workforce. Meanwhile, the biggest challenge for manufacturers has long been the lack of skilled workers available to fill open jobs. By employing 10% more women, manufacturers can bridge the skills gap by 50%.

What they’re saying: “Women in manufacturing proved themselves time and time again during the pandemic, driving innovation and progress, and they are now helping our industry build the next, post-pandemic world,” said MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee.

  • “As an industry, we are always working to do more to bring more women into manufacturing and encourage their innovative ideas and transformative leadership,” added 2021 STEP Ahead Chair and Johnson & Johnson Executive Vice President and Chief Global Supply Chain Officer Kathy Wengel.
  • “The creativity, commitment and passion displayed by each of these women leaders and rising stars drive innovation in our industry forward,” said 2021 STEP Ahead Vice Chair and 3M Senior Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Denise Rutherford.

. . . and don’t forget, creators are wanted: The NAM and MI’s Creators Wanted project, which aims to close the skills gap and get many more people into manufacturing, will help fund the MI’s workforce-development efforts, including STEP. A full half of the funds raised (which will total millions of dollars) will go toward supporting the MI’s programs into 2025.

Interested in becoming a STEP Ahead sponsor? See opportunities here.

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