STEP Forward: Bay Area Seeks to Empower and Advance Women in Manufacturing

By SLNext
In Uncategorized
Oct 25th, 2017

On Tuesday, October 24, at the Zero Net Energy Center in San Leandro, the Manufacturing Institute hosted a STEP Forward: Bay Area networking event, targeted to advance women in manufacturing.  STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Production) Forward is a part of the institute’s larger STEP Ahead initiative to empower women in the manufacturing industry.

The STEP Ahead initiative was launched in 2012 to showcase the impact of women in manufacturing, and to help attract and retain the talent the industry needs to succeed. Research suggests that closing the gender gap by 10% will subsequently close the skills gap by 50%. Why?

Women represent a vast talent pool: in 2016, women totaled about 47% of the U.S. labor force, but only 29% of the manufacturing workforce. At the same time, women earn more than half of all associate’s bachelors and master’s degrees. Women are also advancing in their careers, holding more than half of all U.S. managerial and professional positions. So it there are plenty of qualified women in the workforce, why aren’t they in manufacturing?

The STEP Ahead Awards annually highlight the achievement of real women in manufacturing on a national stage with a formal gala to celebrate their accomplishments and further encourages women to mentor and support the next generation of female talent to pursue manufacturing careers. This annual gala is supported through regional events like the one held today at ZNEC.  An online toolkit is also available to assist companies in recruiting and advancing women in their organization.

In partnership with Arconic Foundation, STEP Forward is a networking series for women in manufacturing. The purpose of the series is to provide women in the industry with an opportunity to hear from industry leaders, connect with their peers, and learn best practices they can bring back to their companies. Tuesday’s event covered a range of topics, from work-life balance to the perception of manufacturing, this forum featured key industry leaders in a panel discussion to discover strategies on how best to lead and adapt working cultures where women can thrive. The 80 participants also learned how to attract millennials to the industry. The two panels were:

Women in Manufacturing Forum

Sandra Chen of Facebook, Jenny Landon of the AB&I Foundry, Alyssa Roque of Fresenius Medical Care NA,  and Pamela Kan of the Bishop-Wisecarver Group.

Minding the Manufacturing Gender Gap

Tulin Akin of Bloom Energy, Akhila Bhiman of Fresenius Medical Care NA, James Gardner of AMBayArea, Liisa Pine Schoonmaker of the Laney College Welding Department, and Hannah Kain, of ALOM.

The panel discussions were followed by a networking reception. The STEP Forward networking event was designed to provide attendees an opportunity to discuss best practices and solutions to attract and retain women in the industry. The event mobilized men and women to act as a catalyst for change within their companies and communities, and to inspire the next generation of talent to pursue careers in the industry.


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