Gender Diversity: 3DPrint.com’s Research on Women in Leadership Roles in the 3D Printing Industry

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In recent years, the drive for gender diversity in leadership positions has extended to various industries, including the traditionally male-dominated field of technology. Recognizing the advantages of a diverse and inclusive workforce, many companies have taken steps to actively recruit and promote women to leadership roles. This trend holds true even within the 3D printing ecosystem, where efforts are being made to increase gender representation in executive and leadership positions.

To gain insights into the current landscape, 3DPrint.com conducted a comprehensive analysis, collecting data from over 670 companies within the 3D printing ecosystem. The aim was to shed light on the extent of female representation in executive and leadership roles, painting a nuanced picture of the current reality. Through this analysis, a clearer picture emerges regarding the progress made and the steps yet to be taken to achieve gender diversity in this evolving sector.

Based on extensive research, the data reveals promising signs of progress in gender diversity within the 3D printing industry. Our analysis identified a notable presence of women in key leadership positions, including C-level roles, board memberships, founding partners, managers, and much more. Specifically, we found that the industry has over 1,220 women holding these influential positions.

Among these figures, 108 female CEOs lead their organizations with vision and expertise. Additionally, the data highlights 86 women chairing boards and 115 female founders, all of them driving innovation and shaping the direction of their companies. While these figures are promising, they also underscore the ongoing gender disparity, indicating that further efforts are needed to achieve greater gender balance and inclusivity in the industry’s leadership ranks.

These data points serve as a reminder that the journey toward gender equality in the 3D printing industry is a complex and ongoing one. While progress has been made in elevating women to leadership positions, it is essential to continue advocating for equal opportunities, addressing biases, and fostering a more inclusive environment to further empower women in the industry.

Diverse leadership

Historically, women have been underrepresented in the 3D printing industry, but there have been efforts in recent years to address this issue and increase gender diversity. According to our data, women currently represent only 18% of CEOs. While 48% of the companies we researched have women in executive roles, it is crucial to note that the average number of women in executive positions is still relatively low, averaging at three per company. Despite this, several businesses have made significant progress by hiring many women in these roles. The following table highlights ten companies leading the way in promoting gender diversity.

Table 1: Leadership Positions in 3D Printing

Image courtesy of 3DPrint.com

As part of our research, we classified women into various management roles, including executive, middle, and other management positions. Graph 1 breaks down the percentage of women in each executive position. Among the executive roles, CEOs account for 32%, vice presidents make up 26%, while chief financial officers (CFOs) and chief operating officers (COOs) both stand at 7%. The chief marketing officer position represents 5% of the total, and the chief people officer (CPO) role accounts for 4%. Additionally, other C-level positions, such as chief human resources officer (CHRO), chief revenue officer (CRO), and even chief artificial intelligence (Chief AI), contribute to the overall representation of women in executive management.

Graph 1: Women in Executive Management Positions

In middle management, prominent roles include marketing manager (15%), director of marketing and/or communications (11%), and human resources manager (7%). Other middle management positions also contribute significantly to this segment, accounting for nearly half of the pie chart. These roles span a range of responsibilities, from directors of finance to AM quality managers, highlighting the diverse array of middle management positions within the industry.

Graph 2: Women in Middle Management Positions

Finally, Graph 3 provides an overview of the distribution of other management roles within the industry. In this category, sales, marketing, and communications dominate, followed by professional and technical positions, operations and logistics, finance and accounting, and human resources. This section encompasses an even wider range of roles, including senior engineering managers, general counsel, and supply chain managers, among others. The graph illustrates the diverse nature of management positions beyond the executive and middle management levels.

Graph 3: Women in Other Management Roles

Women empowered

Research has consistently demonstrated that companies with gender-diverse leadership teams tend to achieve more robust financial performance and exhibit higher levels of innovation and creativity. Furthermore, the presence of women in leadership positions serves as a powerful source of inspiration, encouraging other women to pursue careers in traditionally male-dominated fields. In light of this, we highlight 15 accomplished executive women who have made significant contributions to the 3D printing industry.

Table 2: Executive Women in 3D Printing

Image courtesy of 3DPrint.com

Numerous initiatives and organizations are dedicated to increasing female participation in the 3D printing industry. One such global organization is Women in 3D Printing, which actively promotes and supports women in the industry through networking events, mentorship programs, and educational initiatives. Additionally, organizations like Girls Who Print and Women in Manufacturing are committed to empowering and advocating for women in both the 3D printing and manufacturing sectors. Furthermore, the Women in AM conference is a platform to highlight, promote, and support gender diversity within the 3D printing industry.

Although these initiatives collectively contribute to fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment for women in the field, Sarah Goehrke, an industry expert with over a decade of experience in AM, says 3D printing as an industry has a long path ahead in terms of approaching gender equity.

“Initiatives — including internal employee resource groups (ERGs); formal executive training in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); or even sponsoring or hosting conversations on the topic of gender equity and DEI — are on the rise but are far from ubiquitous. Even companies that do begin their journey in terms of executive/management training often stall out. It’s a process, and not always a smooth or straightforward one, to focus on and implement intentional workforce initiatives. As of 2023, female representation in the additive manufacturing workforce remains low, with most estimates calculating between 11% and 18% of women in the industry. For a world made up of roughly 50% women and other non-male-identifying people, it’s clear that 3D printing still has a long way to go. Even still, with more companies and organizations recognizing disparity, representation has risen over the years, and we are seeing more teams invest in their evolution,” emphasizes Goehrke, who is also the founder of Additive Integrity.

Overall, encouraging more women to enter and advance in the industry, along with promoting gender diversity in leadership positions, fosters a more inclusive environment. As a result, companies recognize the benefits of a diverse workforce and actively recruit and encourage women to influential roles. This increased representation brings diverse perspectives and paves the way for greater progress toward gender equality in the sector and all the benefits that come with it.

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