Brittany Davis, the operations manager at BASF in Chattanooga, was recognized nationally as an Emerging Leader in the industry at The Manufacturing Institute’s tenth annual STEP Ahead Awards. Focusing on science, technology, engineering, and production (STEP), the program honors women who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers across all levels of the manufacturing industry, from the factory floor to the executive level. To date, more than 1,000 women have been recognized as STEP Ahead Award recipients, and those women have impacted more than 300,000 individuals—from peers in the industry to school-age children.
Davis found her career in manufacturing through many different opportunities and mentors. From a young age, she looked up to her grandfather who was a college math professor for 51 years. Ms. Davis attended a residential high school in North Carolina that focused on math and science. This is where she first realized that she enjoyed the real-world problem solving and hands-on experience that careers in engineering offer. She then went on to pursue a chemical engineering degree where she was first truly introduced to her manufacturing experience through internships with BASF, where she has been full-time for the past 7 years.
“My advice to any women interested in a career in manufacturing is to seek out STEM programs, internships, job shadows, mentors and anything else that may be available,” said Ms. Davis. “You can do it. Your perspective and approach to challenging situations are needed. We should celebrate other women’s successes and continuously look for ways to mentor the next generation of women in manufacturing.”
Ms. Davis is actively involved in the BASF TECH Academy, a program that introduces students to technical and craft careers through hands-on demonstrations and experiments at Chattanooga State, tours of local employers and career-focused discussions with BASF employees.
“I am so honored to be recognized as a STEP ahead emerging leader,” said Ms. Davis. “While I’m already actively involved in many STEM programs such as BASF TECH Academy, I am so excited to learn from other women in manufacturing so that I can be a better mentor for the future generation of women in manufacturing.”
Two additional BASF employees, Julie Fay, polyurethane systems operations director in North Geismar, Louisiana, and Elba Lizardi. site director in Seneca, South Carolina, were recognized during the ceremony.
The biggest challenge facing manufacturers continues to be the growing workforce crisis—the shortage of skilled talent to fill open positions. Manufacturers could close the skills gap by 50% by bringing 10% more women into the industry. Women account for about half of the U.S. labor force but represent less than one-third of the manufacturing workforce. STEP Ahead empowers and inspires women in the manufacturing industry. The goal is to build networks for women to have support in their industry and to elevate the role models who can motivate and mentor the next generation.
“The STEP Ahead Awards are central to the industry’s efforts to recognize and empower women,” said Manufacturing Institute President Carolyn Lee. “Our Honorees and Emerging Leaders serve as role models and have their own multiplier effect on the number of women in the workforce, paying it forward to help others find their way into a successful, rewarding career in modern manufacturing.”
BASF sponsored the annual awards ceremony, which was held virtually and in-person in Washington, D.C., on April 28. For more information about BASF careers and efforts that promote women in manufacturing, visit www.basf.us/women.
View the video of Brittany Davis, 2022 STEP Ahead Emerging Leader: https://youtu.be/pHZeqbv52uM