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Nominations for 2016 STEP Ahead Awards Open

Washington – The Manufacturing Institute announced nominations for the 2016 STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Ahead Awards are open. The fourth annual STEP Ahead Awards, recognizing manufacturing women who display leadership within their companies, honor top performers in manufacturing and further encourage women to mentor and support the next generation of female talent.  

The STEP Ahead Awards, a part of the larger STEP Ahead initiative, began in 2012 to broadcast the role of women in manufacturing through recognition, research and best practices for attracting, retaining and advancing strong female leaders. In 2016, the Institute will honor 100 women and 30 Emerging Leaders, a category introduced last year to honor women under the age of 30 who have achieved unique accomplishments at the start of their careers.

“STEP Ahead provides the manufacturing industry a platform to showcase top female talent,” said Neddy Perez, STEP Ahead chair and vice president of global diversity and inclusion, talent management at Ingersoll Rand. “Each Honoree and Emerging Leader has a relatable and impactful story on overcoming the challenge of being underrepresented in the industry. These stories send a message to women across the U.S. that they are not alone in this industry.”

“For a thriving manufacturing sector in the United States, and to close a skills gap that could keep 2 million jobs unfilled over the next decade, we need the most capable, talented and inventive workforce in the world,” said National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons. “The STEP Ahead Award responds to challenge—by elevating exceptional leaders, promoting our industry and inspiring more women to become manufacturers.”

Women constitute manufacturing's largest pool of untapped talent in the United States. They comprise just over one-fourth (27%)  of manufacturing employees even though women make up nearly half (47%) of the total U.S. labor force. A huge part of closing the manufacturing skills gap is closing the gender gap. The Manufacturing Institute, Deloitte and APICS Supply Chain Council released the “Minding the manufacturing gender gap: How manufacturers can get their fair share of talented women” report. The joint study represents both the collective perspective of 600 women in manufacturing, as well as the voice of manufacturing leaders, and calls upon manufacturers to tap into the full power and potential of women to improve the United States' manufacturing sector's ability to compete worldwide.

This study confirms the importance of increasing the amount of women in the manufacturing workforce and that manufacturers are missing a critical talent pool, which could aid in closing the skills gap.

“Companies with more women representation in leadership positions have a better financial outcome and an increased competitive edge. Companies need to understand how to effectively recruit and retain women, as diversity will drive bottom line improvements,” The Manufacturing Institute President Jennifer McNelly said.

“The women recognized with this national honor know manufacturing provides clean, safe, and high-tech jobs that help the nation,” said Blake Moret, chairman of The Manufacturing Institute Board of Trustees and Senior Vice President, Control Products & Solutions at Rockwell Automation. 

To nominate a woman in manufacturing, please visit

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