The recipients of the first Women in Manufacturing STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Awards were recently announced by the Manufacturing Institute, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the University of Phoenix and Deloitte. The awards honor women who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers and represent all levels of the manufacturing industry.

"These 122 women are the faces of exciting careers in manufacturing," said Jennifer McNelly, president of the Manufacturing Institute. "We chose to honor these women because they each made significant achievements in manufacturing through positive impact on their company and the industry as a whole."

The STEP Awards are part of the larger STEP Ahead initiative launched to examine and promote the role of women in the manufacturing industry through recognition, research and best practices for attracting, advancing and retaining strong female talent.

"The STEP Ahead initiative was founded to change perceptions of the manufacturing industry and create new opportunities for women in the sector," said Latondra Newton, group vice president at Toyota Motor North America Inc. and chairwoman of the STEP Ahead initiative. "This initiative is the call for action to transform the face of today's manufacturing talent and ensure that women can contribute to the future of this industry."

The Manufacturing Institute and its STEP Ahead initiative partners will recognize the 122 recipients of the STEP Awards at a reception on Feb. 5 in Washington, D.C. The STEP Awards program will highlight each honoree's story, including her leadership and accomplishments in manufacturing.

"The stories of these 122 women and the leadership they demonstrate in a diversity of careers are also meant to inspire the next generation of women leaders in manufacturing," said Tim Welsh of the University of Phoenix. "We must empower today's leaders to help attract and educate our future workforce to keep our manufacturing base and our economy competitive."

To see the full list of the 2013 STEP Award recipients, visit www.themanufacturinginstitute.org.