Gender-inclusive making: Women in 3D Printing

Women in 3D Printing / Global decentralized (founded in the US)

The non-profit global network Women in 3D Printing ( started in 2014, from the desire of its US-based French founder Nora Toure to share the stories of the women shaping the Additive Manufacturing space. Considering the nature of 3D Printing (called Additive Manufacturing) itself, which is broadly speaking a manufacturing tool for all types of physical objects, the network is meant to be working cross-industries. Women in 3D Printing centres around the idea that women should embrace their diverse backgrounds because they are what makes the industries related to additive manufacturing so rich and interesting.

Women in 3D Printing is the only global association for women in the 3D printing industry. Each week, they highlight a woman who contributes to their industry. They also act as a platform to facilitate connections by building a strong network of global events, informal gathering, panels, company tours, etc. which are driven by the support of local ambassadors and regional chairs. Finally the network aims at enabling diversity by providing tools for a more inclusive and diverse additive manufacturing workforce, from a female speakers database, a hiring platform, industry surveys, annual reports, and an annual global conference.

Their network counts more than 23,000 members and 75 local chapters.

Gender and other inequalities

Women in 3D Printing has a defined mission, which aims to close the gender-gap in additive manufacturing and to reach the goal of 50% women represented in the 3D printing industry. They consider themselves a gender inclusive platform and highly encourage male allies to participate in their endeavour to advocate for women within their industry. For example, the network runs the NextGen program, which is a mentorship program designed to inspire young girls to work in 3D printing. They also have a speaker database available online to help them give opportunities and visibility to women to have a voice in industry events.

Best practices and challenges

According to our interviewee the best way to build such a network is to start with casual organic events, then structure a better organisation to go to the next level. In the case of Women in 3D Printing all ambassadors of the network sign a contract and commit to a specific number of actions and behaviour. Therefore, nurturing community builders by giving them a high visibility and respect is also crucial.

Finally, in order to build the backbone of a community, a good practice is for the core of the network to make it easy to participate and get involved. Therefore, developing media materials such as images, providing images, texts, event platform, guidelines on how to run events and start chapters is key.

“Women in 3D printing has a defined mission, which aims to close the gender-gap in additive manufacturing and to reach the goal of 50% women represented in the 3D printing industry.”