Many companies say that they are encouraging women into STEM – but what does that mean in practice?
Global drinks company Diageo has a ten-year action plan called Society 2030: Spirit of Progress, to help create an inclusive and sustainable world. One of its aims is to attract more women into STEM careers. Here three women based in its St James’s Gate site in Dublin talk about what that means for them.
“There are a fair number of women on our graduate scheme, and the company offers a lot of support and inclusion, which helps your learning at the start of your career,” says Rachael.
“Senior women are willing to help you. Recently, in coaching training, I was paired with a woman who had been in a similar post to mine and we have talked since then. It’s comforting knowing that I am not the first to be in this position and that she is happy giving me her time.
“My boss is female, so it’s easier to be candid with her about anything I might struggle with. Seeing women in senior positions helps because you can only become what you can see.”
Rachael is currently working in manufacturing, trying to continually improve the flavour and quality of the beers brewed at St. James’s Gate.
“It’s exciting to see the process and then the products on sale. Sometimes after a long day I pop out and buy some – the flavour is an inspiration.”
Distiller, St James’s Gate, Diageo
After her microbiology degree Natasha Alves left her native Portugal for Ireland, aiming for a STEM job.
Now she is a distiller, helping produce Diageo’s Roe & Co Irish Whiskey.
“I’ve always been passionate about STEM, but my career with Diageo has only increased that,” says Natasha. Over the course of four years, she has worked in the microbiology lab, as a brewer, a continuous improvement brewer, a distiller and will soon move to project management.
“I share my passion for STEM simply by showing that a young woman can move up the career ladder within the company.
“My friends and family assume STEM is a male-dominated world, but this is changing fast. People in Portugal are impressed that I have had so many different roles within one company – hard to do in Portugal.”
Natasha advises others considering a STEM career: “Grab any opportunity. Women often feel that they can only apply for jobs that they can 100% do already, but don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and try new opportunities.”
Business Partner, Global Engineering, Diageo
Marsha works in Diageo’s central engineering function, supporting €10m-€200m engineering and planning projects. “At present that includes setting up a new site in Brazil and moving a site in Turkey,” she says.
“I was naturally curious, so I studied science at school. I was inspired by my brother, an engineer, to get a degree in chemical engineering, which gives you lots of career options.”
After working for a building materials company, she moved to the company a decade ago. “First I had an environmental role, then moved into innovation, launching new products in Africa,” she says. Now she is helping expand Mexican tequila production.
“My role models here are my line managers – especially one particular woman – who have inspired me with their values, integrity and passion,” she says. “I now do mentoring and coaching for university alumni and schoolchildren.”
She adds: “Women should know that you don’t have to make a final choice between science and arts at 16. Doing both gives you more options.”