STEPping Up to Advance Women in the Workforce

Earlier this month, the National Association of Manufacturers, The Manufacturing Institute and Arconic Foundation hosted a STEP Forward Google Hangout, where an expert panel focused on how to attract and retain women in the manufacturing industry. STEP Forward is the Institute’s initiative to empower women in manufacturing and inspire the next generation of female talent to pursue careers in the industry. During this live virtual session, the panelists told their own stories and shared best practices covering a range of topics like the importance of getting men involved in the conversation, showcasing females in leadership positions and exposing young women and parents to modern manufacturing careers.

Manufacturers across the country are struggling to fill open positions. And one critical barrier to filling these jobs is that too often women aren’t seeing that there is a place for them in today’s manufacturing. Many outstanding women leaders are making huge strides in impacting this industry and are demonstrating what modern manufacturing offers—rewarding and fulfilling careers with limitless opportunity for growth. Today’s manufacturing employees are building and designing the future, and women in manufacturing serve as ambassadors to move this industry forward.

Research shows women are more likely to look for careers that offer personal and intellectual growth. In fact, women ranked opportunities for challenging and interesting assignments as a top priority when considering their career. Modern manufacturing provides women with opportunity for advancement and long-lasting careers in a range of sectors. On the STEP Forward Google Hangout, the panelists expressed how rewarding it is to be a maker and create products that Americans use every day to increase our standards of living.

Knowing the importance of a diverse workforce, the Institute is promoting the role of women in manufacturing through the larger STEP Ahead initiative, which serves to mentor and recognize women in this critical sector while also leading research efforts tackling this important topic. STEP Ahead honorees and emerging leaders are motivating women to choose careers in manufacturing, and over the past five years, those awarded have impacted more than 300,000 individuals, from peers in the industry to school-aged children.

Manufacturers today must collaborate and work together to diversify the current and future workforce. Showcasing the reality of manufacturing to young women is a huge step toward bridging the skills gap and allowing the industry to reach its full potential. Watch the STEP Forward Google Hangout to hear the insightful discussion on exposing women and the next generation to the opportunities available in manufacturing and continue to follow the conversation at #MFGwomen.

Carolyn Lee

Carolyn Lee

Executive Director of The Manufacturing Institute at The Manufacturing Institute
Carolyn Lee is Executive Director of The Manufacturing Institute, the non-profit affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the nation’s largest industrial trade association. Carolyn drives an agenda focused on improving the manufacturing industry through its three centers: the Center for the American Workforce, the Center for Manufacturing Research, and the Center for Best Practices.

In her role, Carolyn leads the Institute’s workforce efforts to close the skills gap and inspire all Americans to enter the U.S. manufacturing workforce, focusing on women, youth, and veterans. Carolyn steers the Institute’s initiatives and programs to educate the public on manufacturing careers, improve the quality of manufacturing education, engage, develop and retain key members of the workforce, and identify and document best practices. In addition, Carolyn drives the agenda for the Center for Manufacturing Research, which partners with leading consulting firms in the country. The Institute studies the critical issues facing manufacturing and then applies that research to develop and identify solutions that are implemented by companies, schools, governments, and organizations across the country.

Prior to joining the Institute, Carolyn was Senior Director of Tax Policy at the NAM beginning in 2011, where she was responsible for key portions of the NAM’s tax portfolio representing the manufacturing community on Capitol Hill and in the business community and working closely with the NAM membership. She served as the Director of Legislative and Government Affairs at the Telecommunications Industry Association, Manager of State and Federal Government Affairs for 3M Company, and in various positions on Capitol Hill including as Legislative Director for former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and as a senior legislative staff member for former U.S. Rep. Sue Kelly (R-NY).

Carolyn is a graduate of Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania graduating with a B.A. in Political Science. She resides in Northern Virginia with her husband and three children.
Carolyn Lee

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