STEP Women’s Initiative Commemorates 10 Years Honoring Exceptional Women in Manufacturing

130 Manufacturing Leaders to Be Recognized at 2022 Awards Gala

WASHINGTON, D.C., 03/1/22 –

The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers, announces the recipients for the 2022 STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Ahead Awards. From the factory floor to the C-suite, the STEP Ahead Awards honor women who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers across all levels of the manufacturing industry. On April 28, the MI will recognize 130 recipients of the STEP Ahead Awards at an in-person gala in Washington, D.C., highlighting each Honoree and Emerging Leader’s story, including their leadership and accomplishments in manufacturing.

“The STEP Ahead Awards are central to the industry’s efforts to recognize and empower women,” said MI President Carolyn Lee. “Manufacturing is averaging more than 800,000 open jobs a month in the past year, and we can’t close that gap without closing the gender gap. Our Honorees and Emerging Leaders serve as role models and have their own multiplier effect on the number of women in the workforce, paying it forward to help others find their way into a successful, rewarding career in modern manufacturing.

“After 10 years of STEP Ahead Awards, we’ve honored more than 1,100 women leaders in manufacturing, who in turn have impacted hundreds of thousands of individuals through mentoring and volunteer work. We’re so proud of all these women, and we can’t wait to see what our efforts and these Honorees and Emerging Leaders will accomplish in the next 10 years.”

“The 2022 STEP Ahead Honorees and Emerging Leaders are excellent representatives of the exciting opportunities available in manufacturing,” said 2022 STEP Ahead Chair Denise Rutherford. “These remarkable women and the leadership they show help inspire the next generation of female leaders to consider careers in manufacturing.”

The biggest challenge facing manufacturers continues to be the growing workforce crisis. Manufacturers struggling to find enough qualified workers can close the skills gap by 50% simply by bringing 10% more women into the industry. Women account for about half of the U.S. labor force but represent less than one-third of the manufacturing workforce. In the first five years of the initiative, STEP Ahead Award winners have impacted more than 300,000 individuals—from peers in the industry to school-aged children.

Launched in 2012, the STEP Women’s Initiative is the nation’s marquee program to close the gender gap in manufacturing. STEP consists of the STEP Ahead Awards and professional leadership development program as well as regional STEP Forward events throughout the year. The initiative works to foster a 21st-century manufacturing workforce by elevating and inspiring women in the manufacturing industry through recognition, research and leadership, as well as by motivating alumnae to pay it forward by mentoring the next generation.

-The MI-

The MI grows and supports the manufacturing industry’s skilled workers for the advancement of modern manufacturing. The MI’s diverse initiatives support all workers in America, 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 NAM, the MI is a trusted adviser to manufacturers, equipping them with resources necessary to solve the industry’s toughest challenges. For more information on the MI, please visit

733 10th St. NW, Suite 700 • Washington, DC 20001 • (202) 637-3000