STEP Ahead Award Winner Melissa Greenlee Wants to Help Others Achieve Success in Manufacturing Careers

In April The Manufacturing Institute recognized Whirlpool Corporation Director of Engineering and Technology Melissa Greenlee as a recipient of the sixth-annual Women in Manufacturing STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Ahead Awards. The STEP Ahead Awards honor women at all manufacturing levels who have demonstrated leadership and excellence in their careers.

“Providing more opportunities for women in manufacturing is more than just the right thing to do. At a time when manufacturers face a workforce crisis, and with women still constituting less than a third of manufacturing workers, it’s clearly critical to the future of our industry and the economy,” said Carolyn Lee, executive director of The Manufacturing Institute.

The STEP Ahead Awards are part of the larger STEP Ahead initiative launched to promote the role of women in manufacturing through recognition and research. The stories of these women and the leadership they show will help inspire next generation female leaders in manufacturing and support current female talent within the industry.

Greenlee is honored to be an award winner, and believes that programs such as STEP are important in creating role models for other women in manufacturing. “What warms my heart is being able to pay it forward to others,” she said. “Part of encouraging more women to get into this field and advancing is about finding the right mentors and educating women that manufacturing is a good career choice.”

In five years, STEP Ahead Award winners have impacted more than 300,000 individuals—from peers in the industry to school-aged children. The manufacturing industry is currently experiencing a shortage of women in the workforce, representing only 29 percent of the manufacturing labor force. Women represent manufacturing’s largest pool of untapped talent, which makes them a critical factor in closing the skills gap.

The STEP Ahead initiative continues to support and encourage women to become leaders in manufacturing and inspire others to pursue the amazing career opportunities available in this industry. Greenlee embraces this philosophy in the work she does at Whirlpool Corporation. “I’ve really enjoyed the experiences I’ve had in my career. I consider myself a bench player, asking ‘where can I go next?’ and I’m happy to apply the things I’ve learned and also to continue to grow.”

She wants to help other women have the same success. “My biggest goal is to get into the schools and the younger generations and help them understand that you can do anything you want to do. You just have to have a little faith in yourself. You’ve got to believe in yourself and you’ve got to find the great mentors who can help you get there.”

For more information about the STEP Ahead Awards, please contact