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Amanda Hodges
Amanda Hodges

A BASF leader in manufacturing was among 130 women recognized nationally through The Manufacturing Institute’s eighth annual STEP Ahead Awards. Focusing on science, technology, engineering and production (STEP), the program recognizes women who exemplify leadership within their companies. This national honor identifies top talent in the manufacturing industry, and further encourages award winners to mentor and support the next generation to pursue manufacturing careers.

BASF employee Amanda Hodges, process engineer in Chattanooga, received the STEP Ahead Emerging Leader award.

The recognition is part of the STEP Women’s initiative, the goal of which is to shrink the gender gap in manufacturing and increase innovation.

This is accomplished by identifying and elevating the role models who can inspire the next generation, as well as through building networks and developing skills for women in the industry.  

“Manufacturing is a place where ideas become reality. I thrive in an environment where creativity is encouraged, and the results are very tangible,” said Ms. Hodges. “Every day is different and filled with new challenges, and I am honored to be part of an industry which continues to change our world.”

Women constitute one of manufacturing’s largest pools of untapped talent. Female employees totaled 47 percent of the U.S. labor force in 2018, but only 29 percent of the manufacturing workforce. Not only does the STEP Women’s initiative bolster manufacturing’s attractiveness to women, it also plays an important role in improving the perception of careers in the industry among younger generations.

“STEP Women’s Initiative is a grassroots movement of manufacturers dedicated to overcoming the shared challenges facing manufacturers today. The biggest challenge continues to be the growing workforce crisis,” said Carolyn Lee, Executive Director of the Manufacturing Institute. “Through a collective effort, the STEP Ahead Awards are dedicated to fostering a 21st century manufacturing workforce that gives women the recognition and support they deserve. By honoring current and existing leaders we are building and elevating the role models that can inspire the next generation – and we are building the networks for women to have support in their industry and do even more.”

BASF sponsored the annual awards ceremony, which was held virtually on Sept. 24.