A Step in the Right Direction for More Women in Manufacturing

May 11, 2016

Did you know that the need for qualified manufacturing professionals increases each year? These aren’t your typical manufacturing jobs – these are careers in fields such as engineering, technology development, logistics and manufacturing. While women make up approximately half of the overall labor force, only about 25 percent of manufacturing roles are held by women.

To help close this gap, the Manufacturing Institute launched the STEP Ahead initiative. As part of the initiative, the organization recognizes and honors women in the manufacturing industry, from the shop floor and design labs to the executive suite, who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers. 

On Thursday, April 21, The Manufacturing Institute recognized 130 women leaders in manufacturing during the STEP Ahead Awards at a reception in Washington D.C.  Representatives from Caterpillar as well as Solar Turbines Incorporated were included in this elite group of leaders:

               Gina Vassallo
               Engineered Value Chain Program Manager
               Caterpillar Enterprise System Group

               Jennifer Wick
               Lead HR Manager
               Industry Solutions, Components & Distribution Division  

               Lori Lents
               Large CSMD Value Stream Manager
               Solar Turbines Incorporated

               Natalie Vanderspiegel
               Value Stream Manager
               Solar Turbines Incorporated

Click here for a full list of the 2016 STEP Ahead Award recipients, including the biographies of other Caterpillar honorees. 

The STEP Awards initiative gives resources to its network of manufacturing professionals to share with their employers to help more women engineers develop and advance during their careers. Caterpillar is meeting this challenge by having a clear strategic vision that requires the best talent to execute, providing great opportunities for growth – including manufacturing, technology, engineering and production.

This year’s STEP Awards recipients – and countless other Caterpillar employees – are working to inspire the next generation female leaders to pursue a career in manufacturing.


The group was honored with the first Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Chairman’s award for the first gender specific leadership program at Caterpillar.

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Watch this video to learn how your road to progress begins with a career at Caterpillar.

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