Manufacturing Day 2019 - Visit to Monoflo International, in Winchester, VA.

Manufacturing Awards Program Celebrates Women for Leadership and Excellence in the Industry

WASHINGTON, D.C., 09/24/20 –

The Manufacturing Institute’s 8th annual STEP Ahead Awards program will recognize tonight 130 women leaders who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers in science, technology, engineering and production. These extraordinary women are leading the industry at a critical time—helping to keep Americans safe, create lifesaving products, provide the nation’s food and household essentials and develop revolutionary new technologies. They represent all levels of the manufacturing industry, from the factory floor to the C-suite, and are central to the story of modern manufacturing. And by sharing that story, they aim to inspire a new generation of women in manufacturing.

The STEP Ahead Awards are part of the MI’s STEP Women’s Initiative, which promotes the role of women in the manufacturing industry through recognition, research and leadership for attracting, advancing and retaining strong female talent.

“At a time when manufacturers still face a workforce crisis, and with women constituting less than one-third of manufacturing workers, honoring women leaders in the modern manufacturing industry and inspiring more women to enter the field is as important as it’s ever been,” said MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee. “Providing more opportunities for women in manufacturing is more than just the right thing to do; it’s clearly critical to the future of our industry and the economy.

“The Manufacturing Institute’s STEP Ahead Awards provide today’s female leaders in manufacturing the recognition they deserve and elevate role models who can inspire future generations. Tonight’s event is an important element of the STEP Women’s Initiative and our commitment to fostering a 21st-century manufacturing workforce by developing current leaders and engaging future ones.”

Background: Women constitute one of manufacturing’s largest pools of untapped talent. Women totaled 47% of the U.S. labor force in 2016, but only 29% of the manufacturing workforce. In the program’s first five years, STEP Ahead Award winners impacted more than 300,000 individuals—from peers in the industry to school-aged children.

The 2020 STEP Ahead Awards program is chaired by Erika Peterman, senior vice president, chemical intermediates North America at BASF Corporation, and Vice Chair Kathy Wengel, executive vice president and chief global supply chain officer at Johnson & Johnson. The virtual program is open to the public and can be viewed here.

View the full list of STEP Ahead Award Honorees here.


The Manufacturing Institute grows and supports the manufacturing industry’s skilled workers for the advancement of modern manufacturing. The Manufacturing Institute’s diverse initiatives support all American workers, including women, veterans and students, through skills training programs, community building and the advancement of their career in manufacturing. As the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers, The Manufacturing Institute is a trusted adviser to manufacturers, equipping them with resources necessary to solve the industry’s toughest challenges. For more information, please visit


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