The Manufacturing Institute (MI), the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers, announced it will award Novolex chief technology officer, Dr. Adrianne Tipton, with the Women in Manufacturing STEP Ahead Award.

The STEP Ahead Awards honor women who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers and represent all levels of the manufacturing industry, from the factory floor to the C-suite.

"It's an honor to be recognized amongst this incredible group of women in the manufacturing field," says Dr. Tipton. "Novolex has created a community that uplifts and inspires innovation in all forms to develop new products, enhance our operations, and support our people and communities. I am proud to accept this award and be able to continue to promote opportunities for women at Novolex and encourage others to seek roles in the broader manufacturing sector."

The STEP Women's Initiative is the nation's marquee program to close the gender gap in manufacturing. STEP works to foster a 21st-century manufacturing workforce by empowering and inspiring women in the manufacturing industry through recognition, research, and leadership, as well as by motivating alumnae to pay it forward by mentoring the next generation.

"Adrianne has helped lead remarkable advancements at Novolex — from developing and marketing innovative sustainable packaging solutions that support the circular economy, to enhancing our health and safety initiatives and engineering programs across the company," says Stan Bikulege, Novolex chairman and CEO. "Her resolve to help others has been felt throughout our 10,000-strong Novolex family. We look forward to Adrianne's continued leadership and remain committed to lifting up the next generation of female talent in manufacturing."

The biggest challenge facing manufacturers continues to be the growing workforce crisis — the shortage of skilled talent to fill open positions. Manufacturers can close the skills gap by 50%, simply by bringing 10% more women into the industry.

Women account for about half of the U.S. labor force but represent less than one-third of the manufacturing workforce. STEP Ahead empowers and inspires women in the manufacturing industry. The goal is to build networks for women to have support in their industry, and to elevate the role models who can motivate and mentor the next generation.

On April 28, the MI will recognize 130 recipients of the STEP Ahead Awards in Washington, D.C. The STEP Ahead Awards program will highlight each Honoree and Emerging Leader's story, including their leadership and accomplishments in manufacturing.