#ChooseToChallenge Disparity In 3D Printing

By on March 10th, 2021 in community

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#ChooseToChallenge Disparity In 3D Printing
[Source: Women in 3D Printing]

This International Women’s Day, the official 2021 campaign theme is #ChooseToChallenge. IWD explains:

“A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.

We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.

From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.”

Focusing on “challenge” in 2021 may be a little bit on the nose, as the last year has been nothing short of a series of monumental challenges. From a global pandemic to systemic racism to supply chain fragility to work-from-home and virtual schooling environments, very few parts of life right now don’t seem like a challenge.

From the ashes, though, we’re seeing a rebirth starting, slowly, as new solutions have been arising. Vaccines, decentralized production, social change: the human race is nothing if not adaptable. And so we’re adapting. We’re adapting to a reshaping world, we’re overcoming challenges and beyond that — we’re challenging the status quo.

AM: Challenging the Status Quo

Additive manufacturing is all about change: rethink, reinvent, remake. Every day, this industry is challenging preconceived notions in traditional manufacturing. It’s not such a major leap to extend that beyond the technology and into the workforce behind the tech: the who behind the what.

This year, Women in 3D Printing challenged the industry to reconsider other preconceived notions. At our first annual TIPE 3D Printing conference, we featured the industry’s first all-female speakers agenda. When all too often event organizers “can’t find a female speaker”, we found more than a few: over two days, across five simultaneous tracks, we brought 147 women to the virtual stage to discuss wide-ranging aspects of additive manufacturing.

One hundred forty-seven.

The executive committee truly had our work cut out for us, as we received more than 200 submissions from highly-qualified potential speakers. That is: we had to narrow down to 147. Two very busy days of nonstop presentations couldn’t fit every qualified speaker who applied. We even added the fifth track, Youth, to add room to our originally-planned agenda outline (and to include a much-needed focus on the next generation of this workforce).

Tell me again how you can’t find a woman to speak at an event.

Tell me again how “there just aren’t any women out there”.

I’d like to challenge those common excuses.

Wi3DP: Choosing to Challenge Inequity

At Women in 3D Printing, for six years now we’ve been focused on a mission of “Promoting, supporting, and inspiring women using Additive Manufacturing technologies” as we challenge the historical gender gap in manufacturing. The work we do is possible because of a vast network of incredible, motivated volunteers.

And it is work. Current estimates indicate that the 3D printing workforce is composed of just 13% women, with 11% women-owned businesses — a far cry from the 50% metrics we’re targeting.

But, and there’s a big but here, things are changing. The best way to make change is to choose to change, and through Women in 3D Printing we’re committed to being and fostering a platform for change. It is, indeed, a choice to challenge the status quo, and that’s a choice we’re making every day.

Read the rest at Women in 3D Printing

[Note: I wrote this piece for and published it at Women in 3D Printing as part of my work with that organization; it was outside the scope of my work with Fabbaloo, shared here with permission. -SG]

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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