3D Printing: Spotlight on Women

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Earlier this month, we celebrated International Women’s Day by highlighting a very few of the women involved in the 3D printing industry today. The accomplishments of women in the industry are many, though, and certainly not limited to that talented five — and theirs are the stories we’re looking to tell in a new 3D Printing Spotlight series, in which we shine a light on a more diverse range of voices in the industry. Women are makers, hobbyists, CEOs, founders, inventors, innovators, founders, partners, communicators, writers, tinkerers, YouTubers, artists — and have voices to be heard. Here at 3DPrint.com, we are proud to provide a platform in which we share the stories of the industry we all love and live by, and with this new series we will be using that unique stage to present the stories of more participants in the industry.

It’s important to note, at this point, that “feminism” isn’t a dirty word; the goal is always equality, not superiority. In beginning to look to this spotlight series, some of the feedback (yes, from men) I’ve received has been worry that we’ll be ignoring men and cutting coverage of men’s accomplishments, making the industry look unfriendly to women, or that “we don’t need to celebrate Women’s Day because we celebrate women every day” (not said by a member of our writing team). As any looking for an equal footing often find, the worry appears to be that those on the majority side feel concerned that their piece of the pie will get smaller; it’s not a pie. Just as those looking for equal rights face, their gaining rights doesn’t take away rights from those who have had them. As Maisie Williams, of Game of Thrones fame, said:

“I also feel like we should stop calling feminists ‘feminists’ and just start calling people who aren’t feminist ‘sexist’ — and then everyone else is just a human. You are either a normal person or a sexist. People get a label when they’re bad.”

The fact is that diversity is an important aspect of the world at large, and within the smaller worlds that are business operations. A more diverse community can come up with a wider variety of ideas and methods of implementation than can a homogeneous room of similar thinkers. Another fact of the matter is that women face issues in the business world that men simply don’t, from harassment to mansplaining. There aren’t as many of us represented.

The Diversity Panel at Inside 3D Printing San Diego 2016

This isn’t a new issue, but it’s also one that’s not going ignored anymore; while still not the most widely attended, an increasing number of conferences are featuring panels discussing issues of diversity in tech today. Women are here, and are working to be heard. Women in 3D Printing is one incredible organization acting as a platform for the community, highlighting the accomplishments happening all around us. Earlier this week, Rize’s Vice President of Marketing, Julie Reece, posted an insightful thought piece following a recent panel at AMUG, in which she writes:

“To assess the number of women involved in additive manufacturing, I consider the percentage of women working at 3D printer manufacturers, service bureaus, resellers and women working in additive manufacturing labs. Of the informal sampling I took, I estimate that the percentage of women in these roles is less than 20%, which appears to be just slightly higher it was ten years ago. Of those women, the majority, myself included, tend to work in a sales/marketing, editorial, artist/design or administrative capacity – roles typically filled by women across many industries. There are indeed female engineers, scientists and additive manufacturing managers, but we don’t see them in nearly the same numbers as their male counterparts and they haven’t risen to influential senior management positions in large numbers.”

As six months ago I reviewed the sampling of business cards received at a large conference to see the disparity in titles along gender lines, it is noticeable that Reece’s observations are well founded. While both these are indeed selective and informal samplings, the consistency with which we’re noticing this trend is notable. My initial sample was taken from cards received at formnext; below is a look at all the business cards I have collected at events since then, with men’s cards on the left and those from women shown at right:

Final tally: 50 men’s cards, 17 from women. Again, this is a selective sample (and frankly probably missing at least a few cards that never made it to my desk drawer), but it is telling in its way.

For our part, 3DPrint.com’s full-time editorial staff are all female; we understand what it is to be women in tech. We’ll be talking to many more women as we kick off the spotlight series, highlighting their accomplishments and telling their stories. We will be interviewing, featuring, and profiling women who are working in this field today, helping to provide a fuller picture of the growing industry.

Discuss in the Women in 3D Printing forum at 3DPB.com.

If you are interested in sharing your story, or know a woman we should get in touch with, please reach out any time. Send me an email or connect on Twitter. We’re looking forward to sharing your stories. 

Find all the features in this series here.

 

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