With women having become a strong force in science, technology, engineering and math, the Manufacturing Institute has recognized those who have been the best of the best in the industry.
This is the fourth year the Manufacturing Institute has recognized women working in the fields of science, technology, engineering and production with the STEP Ahead Awards. The award is meant to encourage women to mentor and support other women looking to pursue manufacturing
careers. 100 women nationwide and 30 Emerging Leaders (women under the age of 30) were honored this year. Two women from Missouri received the STEP Ahead Award, including Linda Ehler of Hartwig Inc. in St. Louis and Melissa Coon of Harley-Davidson in Kansas City.
As chief financial officer of Hartwig, Inc., Ehler has worked with the company for 17 years and uses her visible role as the sole woman among a leadership team of men as a way to encourage other young women in the company to strive for more.
“Continuing to grow this area of our economy to be a powerhouse in global manufacturing versus relying on the service sector will provide for our country’s financial future,” Ehler said. “We are bringing quality jobs back into this country, and the key now is equipping our young people in technical education.”
Coon, manager of supply chain operations for Harley-Davidson, is committed to mentorship to develop talented staff from within the organization and wants to attract women to the field of manufacturing. When recruiting and hiring externally, Coon has helped attract female talent into positions traditionally dominated by males.
“Through manufacturing, I have the opportunity to directly influence the delivery of amazing, quality products to customers,” Coon said. “What is truly inspiring is the collective effort that is vital to achieve greatness in manufacturing. The contribution of each pillar of the organization brings unbelievable power to achieving a world-class manufacturing system.”
The STEP Ahead Awards took place in April at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.
Alongside the National Association of Manufacturers, the Missouri is a supporter of expanding STEM education to create a better, more prepared workforce in Missouri. This support includes encouraging girls and women to go into STEM fields that have been traditionally dominated by men.
“These women demonstrate the great pride, skill and dedication that exists among Missouri’s manufacturing industry and that’s just what we need to keep our economy and workforce in great shape for years to come,” Brian Crouse, vice president of education programs for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said. “We congratulate Melissa and Linda on a job well done and for being outstanding role models for women across all STEM industries in the state of Missouri.”