As we celebrate Black History Month this February, we want to honor trailblazers of manufacturing and the extraordinary women today that continue to improve the quality of life for our nation and the world.
Some early pioneers in American manufacturing include Sarah E. Goode, Madame C.J. Walker (born Sarah Breedlove) and Rosie The Riveters. Sarah Goode was born into slavery in 1850, and after she was granted her freedom, she became the first African American woman to be granted a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for her invention of a folding cabinet bed in 1885. Madame C.J. Walker rose from the cotton fields of Mississippi to become the first female self-made millionaire in America by manufacturing her line of hair care products. Black Rosie The Riveters played a pivotal role in the manufacturing renaissance by serving as manufacturing plant workers, government office workers, and service officers. Walker, Goode and the Rosies were not only pioneers in manufacturing but among the earliest advocates for equal pay and inclusive workforces.
Since 2012, The STEP Ahead Awards have honored women who make extraordinary contributions to the manufacturing industry, their local communities, and the next generation of manufacturing leaders. Building upon the legacies of manufacturing pioneers, Black women in manufacturing are at the forefront of developing innovative solutions to improve --and sometimes save-- lives, promoting the power of manufacturing in our communities and paying it forward to the next generation of female manufacturing leaders. In honor of Black History Month, we will share the journeys of several STEP Ahead Honorees and Emerging Leaders.
As you learn more about their journeys and read their candid insights, we invite you to post questions, share your personal stories and share the features with your colleagues, friends, and families.