Lack of Women in 3d Printing Restricts Industry Growth
Why additive manufacturing needs the female touch now, more than ever before.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
There is so much buzz around what manufacturing will grow into over the next decade, and I am enthralled by the conversations. It is so exciting to see applications come to fruition to save an industry ripe with pitfalls, and primed for rapid transition and growth. Manufacturing hasn't totally lost its luster, but for people like me, on the inside, I know what it can be. So I am attempting to move the needle forward, faster, now more than ever before.
The Possibilities Are So Endless
In the near future, we will not talk about 3d printing or additive manufacturing as a part of the process, because it will be a part of most processes. Just like injection molding, this will just be. Because of the endless potential, when it comes to application, we are beginning to see ownership from industry and makers, all the way down to what we will call it. According to members of iTEC: Innovative Technologies for Engaging Classrooms, "People in the industry generally prefer additive manufacturing while the general public generally prefers 3D printing. Defining a difference between the two is like splitting filament."
Let's Talk About Women
Sarah Goerke, an industry heavyweight, on behalf of Women in 3D Printing, published the 2018 first quarter report on Diversity for Additive Manufacturing. In this report, we can see a pattern trickling in from manufacturing. One where a lack of female input, should history repeat itself, will lead to higher-than-sustainable failure rates, and a longer than necessary learning curve. But it isn't all doom and gloom, which is why I am writing this article. The opportunities for designers, detail oriented leaders, teachers, innovators, creatives, and makers, are endless. Women fill these roles more than they do the roles of engineers or scientists, which makes the future seem bright!
What's the Gap?
We recognize a clear gap in girls exiting STEAM at a young age, some of which has been addressed. But I think this is different. I think the lack of women in additive manufacturing right now is simply because they don't know the careers exist. As Dr. Tracy Albers put it, "Be present. Lead by example. Tell your story. Show young students, male or female, that careers in manufacturing are real and can offer exceptional career experience." I get this all the time from girls of all ages. When I say that I design products you buy everyday at retail, the response is, "I've never met anyone who does that."
This is why I am back on this topic. This is why I, as a woman in a male dominated career and industry, am highlighting this topic. It's up to me, and everyone else in this industry to highlight the massive opportunities for growth, and experience. To continue blazing the trail for the women who will follow us into the wild 3d printed unknown.
Why Does It Matter?
Diversity isn't just a buzzword. Diverse thought processes, perspectives, ideas, and experiences produce stronger business results. As this field advances and begins to expand into unknown territory, this diversity of thought and perspective will be the most important part of the process. This also means more strategic thinking and approaches to problem solving, allowing this industry to accelerate forward, keeping pace with the technology we now have access to.
Why Do I Care?
I am a woman. I am a mother of three girls. I love 3d printing. I ended up here from a career that began in design. I want other girls and women to know these paths exist and how much fun they are. I don't want women to be left behind in this thrilling new future in front of us. I want to see more female faces at the conferences I attend, or even speak at. I want product design to be better than it's ever been, because the female perspective is on more than ten percent of it. I want to go to bed every night knowing that I did what I could to move my industry forward, and to move women forward. A girl can dream right?