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Diversity is Key

New Report Takes Deep Look at Gender Diversity in Additive Manufacturing

Picture of Tyler Koslow
by Tyler Koslow
Apr 4, 2018

A new quarterly report from the organization Women in 3D Printing takes an in-depth look at diversity in additive manufacturing, focusing on the employment distribution between genders, the different perceptions on professional opportunity, and the views of women who are pioneering the industry.  

We’ve all seen the various reports that boldly predict the future growth of the additive manufacturing market, but it’s not too often that we take a deep look at the inner workings of industry. This is especially true when it comes to diversity in the 3D printing workplace, which, like many other manufacturing sectors, is predominantly made up of men.

A new quarterly report produced by the organization Women in 3D Printing presents a multi-faceted view at diversity within the additive manufacturing workplace. Entitled “Diversity For Additive Manufacturing: First Quarter 2018 Report”, the study is “a resource for understanding the shape and scope of diversity in the 3D printing industry”. It was authored by Sarah Goehrke, Editor-in-Chief of 3DPrint.com; and presented by Nora Touré, Founder of Women in 3D Printing and General Manager at Sculpteo

Read more: Interview With Nora Toure: Breaking up the Boys Club With "Women in 3D Printing" Group

The study presents a data-driven examination of diversity in the additive manufacturing sector, as well as subjective discussion that showcases the unfiltered perspective of women in the industry.

A Data-Driven Discussion on Gender Diversity in Additive Manufacturing

After a brief introduction to the state of additive manufacturing as a whole, the report takes a deep, data-driven dive into gender diversity within the industry. The author presents the issues involving diversity (or lack thereof) right at the outset of the report.

“Objectively, the additive manufacturing industry is growing, comprising a more than $6 billion industry. At one estimate, the workforce is made up of 87% male employees and 13% female employees. Public companies’ executive leadership structures can be observed to be made up of a majority male management structure,” Goehrke writes.

Before showcasing the direct impact this imbalance has on the additive manufacturing sector, the study presents statistics that focus on a bigger picture. The author sources a recent study from Northwestern University that suggests that career perceptions are changing among younger generations. A 2016 LinkedIn survey is also quoted within the text, which found that 23% of employees in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) were female.

Although this sourced research indicates significant growth for women in tech, other studies shine a glaring light on the problems that women in tech constantly face. For instance, the 2017 McKinsey Women in the Workplace study shows that women are significantly underrepresented in automotive and industrial manufacturing.

As for the 3D printing industry, the report turns to a recent salary survey published by Alexander Daniels Global, which is a UK specialist recruitment company that works in the additive manufacturing field. Looking at every professional aspect across the regions of North America, EMEA, and Asia Pacific, the survey found that a whopping 87 percent of employees are male, while just 13 percent are female.

The report digs even deeper into this data, providing a breakdown of the different jobs women hold in the 3D printing industry. The survey found that 29 percent of women in 3D printing worked in marketing, followed by 16 percent in sales, and 14 percent in application and consulting.

Another aspect that the quarterly report looks at is the public employment records of Stratasys and 3D System, two of the largest additive manufacturing companies. In regard to executive positions, the study found that only two of the eleven reported directors and senior management positions at Stratasys are held by women. Out of the five executive officer positions at 3D Systems, none of them are held by a female employee.

Nora Tou, Founder of Women in 3D Printing and General Manager at Sculpteo.

A Personal Perspective of Women in the 3D Printing Industry

After presenting these telling statistics, the quarterly report takes a subjective approach on the subject, as the author herself is a prominent female figure within the 3D printing media scene. Goehrke talks about her own perspective as a woman working in the field of additive manufacturing, explaining certain experiences and epiphanies that transpired at various trade shows. At one point, the author shares a realization she had at CES 2018 in Las Vegas.

“At CES 2018, shortly after the dawn of this new year, thousands gathered in the desert for the neon spectacle that is the massive consumer electronics show. This year was my second time attending, and it seemed to me, primarily focused in as I was on the 3D Printing Zone, that more women were present in 2018 than I had seen in 2017. I took great heart from this — and then noticed an anomaly. Any woman can tell you that in a packed public space, be it an opera house or a baseball stadium, there are always lines for the bathroom. Queuing here is often a built-in part of any experience, and is less a surprising aspect of these events than an exasperating one. At CES, the line out the men’s room door wrapped around a corner in one crowded hallway between event halls; I walked straight into the ladies’ room, no queuing required. Realizing this had me look again at the makeup of attendees; while through efforts such as Women in 3D Printing it becomes clear that there are a significant number of women working in tech today — much of the visibility is clear to those inclined to look. Because I was looking for women in the crowd, I saw them. In absolute numbers, though, women still comprised a significant minority of the total attendance,” Goehrke states in the report.

Utilizing more than 100 interviews conducted by the Women in 3D Printing organization, the report also shares statements from some of the most accomplished females working in the additive manufacturing sphere. The study focuses on a number of questions, including what the subjects think of the 3D printing industry today, the challenges they’ve faced as women in STEM, and how to encourage more women to get involved with 3D printing.

At the end, the report offers a conclusion packed with actionable steps towards making the industry a more diverse space. Goehrke writes:

“Actionable steps toward evening the field of employment include establishing relationships with mentors, visibility of role models, and encouraging educational and training initiatives. Through sharing the stories of industry participants, visibility of experience is rising, positioning the next generations of the workforce to enter a more level field and creating a more complex, rich industry built upon wider-reaching creative problem solving, inventive approaches, and breadth of resources.”

If you’re interested in reading the full report, you can request it directly from the Women in 3D Printing website.

Sarah Goehrke, author of the report and Editor-in-Chief of 3DPrint.com

License: The text of "New Report Takes Deep Look at Gender Diversity in Additive Manufacturing" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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