STEP Ahead Awards Honor Women in Manufacturing

The Manufacturing Institute’s 10th Annual STEP Ahead Awards took place in Washington, DC, last week, honoring some of the most impressive and inspiring women in manufacturing today. The awards are part of the STEP Ahead program, which is designed to help advance the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and manufacturing.

  • The event highlighted the STEP Ahead 2022 Laureates (100 Women Leaders in Manufacturing) and the STEP Ahead 2022 Emerging Leaders (30 women under 30 who have already made a significant impact on the industry).

The prize giving took place Thursday evening, with hundreds of guests attending the National Building Museum and hundreds more watching the ceremony online. The program included:

  • Denise Rutherford, President of STEP 2022 and former Senior Vice President of 3M;
  • Rose Lee, vice president of STEP 2022 and president and CEO of Cornerstone Building Brands;
  • MI President Carolyn Lee;
  • MI Vice President of Strategic Engagement and Inclusion, AJ Jorgenson; and
  • Jay Timmons, President and CEO of NAM and Chairman of the Board of MI.

The sponsors included a list of stars manufacturers, including Arconic Foundation, BASF Corporation, Cornerstone Building Brands, PTC, Trane Technologies, ABB, Molson Coors, Novelis, Rockwell Automation, SABIC, Sherwin-Williams and Toyota.

What they said: Carolyn Lee congratulated the winners and spoke about the importance of closing the skills gap by bringing more women into manufacturing.

  • “I hope that in 10 years, when we gather here for the 20th anniversary of these awards, the young women we honor will not even have heard of the glass ceiling, because that will be history,” said Lee.
  • “And it will be because of the support system, the mentorship and the great examples set by the women in this room and the support of our allies.”

Rutherford spoke on opportunities for leaders to work together to make meaningful progress.

  • “Throughout my career, I’ve learned that being a great leader, either as an individual or as a company, means we don’t go it alone,” Rutherford said. “Real change only happens when we work together as trusted allies, advocates and sponsors.”

Rose Lee presented the qualities that all the laureates demonstrated and underlined their common successes.

  • “The STEP Ahead Awards recognize women in science, technology, engineering and production who exemplify leadership within their businesses and communities,” said Lee. “Tonight is their night to celebrate their accomplishments.”

Timmons praises STEP winners and called on allies to continue supporting women in manufacturing.

  • “Your accomplishments, your success and your dedication show women what is possible in manufacturing,” he said. “If you can see it, you know you can be it.”

35×30: Carolyn Lee and Jorgenson spoke about the 35×30 initiative, a program designed to close the skills and talent gap in manufacturing by adding half a million female workers to the industry, increasing the representation of women in the workforce. manufacturing sector from 29% today to 35% by 2030.

  • The campaign will train more than 1,000 female mentors, create new tools and resources, and work with manufacturing leaders to deploy proven strategies to attract and retain female talent.
  • It will also support young women throughout their studies by offering best-in-class leadership development programs and creating a scholarship funded by STEP alumni.
  • “Tonight we’re done waiting for other leaders to ‘change things’, to make society better, more equitable,” Jorgenson said. “We are the leaders. So tonight we ask you to join us, to lead.

New commitments: To help this new initiative on its journey, Arconic Foundation President Ryan Kish and Ketchie CEO Courtney Silver stood at the ceremony to pledge new financial commitments to the program.

The last word: The gala featured a stellar musical performance by award-winning singer-songwriter Rachel Platten, who didn’t leave a dry eye in the house. Inspired by the women of STEP, she surprised the audience by singing a new song she had written for her daughters. It captures what today’s women leaders want to say to the girls who will one day be their heirs:

Girls, you were born to run. Reaching for the stars and chasing the sun.

Girls, you are wild and free. The wind is at your back, the world is at your feet.

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