Wi3DP Report Sheds Light on the Gender Wage Gap in 3D Printing

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It’s 2022, and the gender wage gap still shows inequities in annual average salaries between men and women worldwide. An unmistakable expression of the hurdles women still face at work, the pay gap proves that deeply embedded cultural problems persist.

At this rate, the United Nations estimated that it would take more than 250 years until women and men receive equal pay. So, that means women should sit around and wait until the 2270s? Surely not. For nearly half a century, the fight for women’s pay equality has raged among activists, celebrities, and lawmakers, and now the AM organization Women in 3D Printing (Wi3DP) is tackling the issue of gender pay as part of its dedication to promoting, supporting and inspiring women who are part of the AM world.

To strengthen the 3D printing industry overall, the organization, led by founder Nora Touré, has released its first-ever “micro-report.” The quarterly publication called “Diversity for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM): Differences in Pay within the Industry” highlighted many failings in the 3D printing universe, such as how corporations need to work harder to ensure they are offering equal compensation to their employees or share more data about salaries with the AM community.

Finding out if the pay gap is present in the AM community and whether women have moved into more managerial roles are just some of the topics Madeleine Prior, an English Content Specialist at 3Dnatives, helped address as lead author on the report.

Aiming to shed light on current circumstances regarding the gender gap in AM, the report examines available data, continues a rising conversation, and is intended to raise awareness on the need for more actionable takeaways for companies across the global 3D printing industry.

Wi3DP founder Nora Toure.

Wi3DP Founder Nora Touré. Image courtesy of Wi3DP.

Globally, a woman earns 77 cents every time a man makes a dollar. Furthermore, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data from 2018, women of all races earn 82 cents for every $1 earned by men. In the European Union, a woman gets 84 cents every time a man is paid a euro. But progress on narrowing the pay gap is slow, especially when talking about the wage gap for women of color, where the gap is larger.

After analyzing data from Alexander Daniels Global‘s 2022 3D Printing Jobs Salary Survey Report, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)-specific data from Wi3DP’s yearly report, Prior concluded that the AM community certainly has a wage gap between men and women—and all the more so once accounting for motherhood. And while generally speaking, gender is consistently an impediment to salary––even more so than other notable factors such as education and experience––Prior pointed out that the report cannot conclusively uncover the precise status of the wage gap within the 3D printing workforce today to the point of qualitatively placing percentages. That is basically due to the limited job salary information available, especially in specific markets like AM.

“In the future, to get a more accurate view of the sector, more surveys related to this specific question are necessary,” emphasized Prior.

Even so, the report reveals that both empirical and anecdotal evidence suggest there is at least some discrepancy between the salaries for men and women in the AM world.

“Whether this is due to differences in roles, with more women in junior positions and very few as CEOs, or to differences in salary, it is uncertain at this point. We would need more data to understand the trends, especially as it comes to not just the number of women in the industry but how they are compensated, which roles they are hired for, and how they compare to men of the same educational level and background.”

Data on women's seniority level in 3D printing industry.

Data on women’s seniority level in 3D printing industry. Image courtesy of Women in 3D Printing/Alexander Daniels Global.

One of the big highlights of the report is that more women are moving into higher-earning positions, which could have a more global impact notably because one of the reasons associated with lower wages for women is the fact that upward mobility into those roles is more difficult. So, even though, generally speaking, we see that women are better paid as they move up in roles, that does not actually clarify whether they earn the same amount of money as their male counterparts.

Although data was difficult to find, the authors found a lot of information about the AM-specific wage gap in the January 2022 TIPE 3D printing conference talk “Don’t Get Mad, Get A Bag” by SJ Jones, an AM Applications Engineer for Siemens Energy, and Alex Kingsbury, Additive Manufacturing Industry Fellow and Engagement Lead at RMIT University in Australia. The pair quoted industry participants directly who explained that women often were not compensated fairly for their work. During the discussion, women said their male colleagues were paid tens of thousands of dollars more than they were, even if they weren’t as qualified.

Many of the quoted AM expert women in the report show a few worrying trends. One is that wage differences manifest early, notably within starting pay differences. Another issue is that further education is often required to advance a career, especially for women.

Women in 3D Printing's TIPE event.

Women in 3D Printing’s TIPE event. Image courtesy of Women in 3D Printing.

One of the report’s most important findings is that job salary information is hard to come by. Even though Prior, along with her Wi3DP team, which included Sarah Goehrke and Touré; and Alexander Daniels Global, tried to gather data where possible, there is barely enough to recreate data from the real world pay gap. Instead, compiling precise data would allow 3D printing companies to ensure they are fairly compensating both genders and help women understand what a fair wage depends on their work, stated the authors.

Hopefully, the efforts to ensure that women are not economically punished for their gender will lead to more advancements in equal pay. Therefore, initiatives in pay equity should remain a priority.

Innovative measures like Ireland’s gender pay gap reporting act, which will require organizations with over 250 employees to report on their gender pay gap in 2022, or Timor-Leste’s decision to end discrimination against women by writing in the constitution that men and women must be treated equally in all aspects of life, are crucial to eliminating the pay difference. As more countries continue making progress on gender pay equality, more data will become available, leading to more realistic depictions of the actual situation and eventually helping bridge the pay gap sooner than predicted.

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