Beyond Optics: Women In Additive Manufacturing

By on March 8th, 2021 in community

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Beyond Optics: Women In Additive Manufacturing
[Source: International Women’s Day]

This International Women’s Day, the theme is #ChooseToChallenge; in 3D printing, we need to challenge our industry to continue to grow.

Every March 8th, 3D printing Twitter lights up with companies celebrating the women on their teams. It’s beautiful to see, and frankly I love scrolling through the intersection of #3Dprinting and #IWD hashtags on my feed. It’s heartening. Look at all the women in the industry, look at all the allies!

Every March 9th, while we’re still in the middle of Women’s History Month, the hashtags quiet down and so do the social media photos with women operating industrial machinery. By March 10th, there’s a bit of “it was nice while it lasted” sentiment.

It’s good optics to glom onto the hashtags of movements. Companies that don’t are conspicuous by their absence. Those that do can improve their social capital, which can easily lead into improving their bottom line capital.

But we need to #ChooseToChallenge ourselves, as an industry, to go beyond those optics and effect enduring change for a more equitable future.

The official International Women’s Day site explains:

“International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality. 

Marked annually on March 8th, International Women’s Day (IWD) is one of the most important days of the year to:

  • celebrate women’s achievements
  • raise awareness about women’s equality
  • lobby for accelerated gender parity
  • fundraise for female-focused charities”

In the FAQ, for the (indeed quite frequently asked) question “Do we still need an International Women’s Day?” organizers explain:

“Yes! There’s no place for complacency. According to the World Economic Forum, sadly none of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, and nor likely will many of our children. Gender parity will not be attained for almost a century. 

There’s urgent work to do — and we can all play a part.”

Once more, for emphasis: yes, we still need an International Women’s Day.

As EOS CEO Marie Langer explains in her company’s video today, not including women in technological progress isn’t just a mistake to be glossed over:

“It is our task as leaders to promote women. Making them visible. Giving them a voice.”

So how do we do that?

One step at a time.

Over at Women in 3D Printing, I wrote a piece for IWD 2021 highlighting the work that went into the TIPE 3D Printing conference, for which we brought 147 experts to the (virtual) stage for the industry’s first all-female speakers agenda event. One point to highlight from that piece: we had to pare down to 147 women, as so many highly-qualified speakers responded to our call for submissions.

TIPE was a remarkable event; more than 1,600 people attended the event over its two days. Those 147 women, joining from five continents, spoke in five concurrent tracks. The expertise and networking at TIPE were heartening; as an organizer, track leader, and session moderator, I was personally riding the high from the event for days afterward.

TIPE 3D Printing was a success — because we chose to make it successful. The executive team behind the event planning spent months planning, recruiting, promoting, and onboarding support and logistics. The expertise shared and connections made across the duration of the event, from planning to closing keynote, all happened because of conscious choice.

Imagine, if you will, what might happen if more companies made the conscious choice to pay attention to (and do something about) their own workforces.

More companies across the 3D printing industry are hiring on Chief Diversity / Transformation / Equity Officers, creating new positions dedicated to establishing and fostering diverse, equitable, inclusive workplaces. These positions are the result of conscious choice: these companies are choosing to challenge their own hiring and retention practices. They are choosing to challenge preconceived notions and work toward that more equitable future.

As always, I’d like to point out that study after study has backed up that such efforts also go beyond optics. It may “look good” to have a CDO on the team, but that bottom line also starts to look better as the inclusive team performs better. Better products, better processes, better revenues: there’s a lot to be gained from actual, intentional diversity.

So this International Women’s Day, let’s all #ChooseToChallenge — and choose to change.

Via International Women’s Day

By Sarah Goehrke

Sarah Goehrke is a Special Correspondent for Fabbaloo, via a partnership with Additive Integrity LLC. Focused on the 3D printing industry since 2014, she strives to bring grounded and on-the-ground insights to the 3D printing industry. Sarah served as Fabbaloo's Managing Editor from 2018-2021 and remains active in the industry through Women in 3D Printing and other work.

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