The MI Honors 2024 Women MAKE Award Winners

The Manufacturing Institute—the NAM’s 501(c)(3) workforce development and education affiliate—had ample reason to celebrate last night.

What went on: The MI held the 2024 Women MAKE Awards gala, a night that recognizes outstanding women in manufacturing. Each year, the awards pay special tribute to 100 peer-nominated women leaders (“Honorees”) and 30 rising female stars (“Emerging Leaders,” women under the age of 30) in the industry.

  • The event, held this year at The Anthem—a waterfront concert venue in Washington, D.C.—was sponsored by Caterpillar, Toyota, BASF, Trane Technologies, International Paper, Johnson & Johnson, Novelis and others.
  • It featured a vocal performance by singer Loren Allred, platinum-selling singer-songwriter of “Never Enough” from “The Greatest Showman” musical, who gained widespread fame after appearing on “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2022.

What was said: Caterpillar Group President of Resource Industries, NAM Executive Committee Member and Women MAKE Awards Chair Denise Johnson told the night’s award winners that she’s been “the only woman in a room, or the only woman on a project” many times in her career.

  • But “[l]ooking around this theater and seeing the faces of the Honorees and Emerging Leaders tells me that times are changing.”
  • She then addressed the honorees directly, saying, “Your success, your work ethic and your stories will inspire the next generation of manufacturing leaders. … You are moving us along toward a future when women are not underrepresented in our industry.”

From Honoree to Vice Chair: Toyota Motor North America Senior Vice President, Electric Vehicle Supply Susan Elkington—a 2014 Honoree of the awards, formerly called the STEP Ahead Awards—was this year’s awards vice chair. She attested to the power of the awards to help women advance in their careers.

  • “[T]he Women MAKE network … helped me realize the many qualities and experiences uniting all the women who have been inducted into this amazing network.”
  • She noted the cruciality of the MI’s Women MAKE initiative, which “provides a platform for role models and mentors to encourage women to enter the field and succeed in it.”

No limits: NAM President and CEO and MI Chairman of the Board Jay Timmons also discussed the importance of role models, a label aptly applied to all the award nominees.

  • Timmons, a parent of three, told the audience that he and his children recently learned the story of 30-year-old Cole Brauer, who last month made history as the first American woman to sail solo nonstop around the world.
  • Brauer’s story “sends a message to those—frankly, women or men—who might have been led to believe there were limits to what they could achieve or that their careers might be confined within guardrails,” he said. “Your examples are inspiring people in a similar way. You are powerhouses—your dynamism, your drive, your enthusiasm—all these qualities supercharge modern manufacturing, making our industry an even more powerful force for good.” 

“Amazing things”: MI President and Executive Director Carolyn Lee called the nominated women “powerhouses who have accomplished amazing things.”

  • “You deserve this recognition for your excellence and for everything you do to uplift others,” Lee told the award nominees. “But we’re not just celebrating. Being here to recognize these winners is shining a light and fueling the work to close the gender and talent gap in manufacturing.”
  • Women account for less than one-third of the American manufacturing workforce, she went on, but endeavors such as the MI’s Women MAKE America initiative—the nation’s premier program dedicated to closing the gender gap in the sector—“and companies like yours are committed to closing that gap.”

Learn more: For a full list of this year’s award winners, click here.

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