International Day of Women and Girls in Science – Experiences from our colleagues

 

10 Feb 2023

The 11th of February is International Day of Women and Girls in Science, an annual event where societies across the globe promote equal access and participation in science for women and girls.

Currently, women only make up 28% of the global workforce within STEM, with this a result of factors including a lack of role models and persistent negative stereotypes. It is an industry where greater action is needed to attract women at all levels.

At Diageo, we are fully committed to championing female representation within our business and are proud of the talented and dedicated scientists we employ across our markets that continue to push our company forward.

So, to mark the occasion, we spoke to two female scientists at Diageo to discuss their roles, their love for science, and any advice they have for women and girls wanting to kick-start a career in the industry.

(left) Jessica (Jess) Warnock is a Special Projects – Distillation Manager within Diageo’s R&D team. Based in the Alloa Distillery in Scotland, Jess has been at the company for over six years, with her previous role at Diageo as a Technical Project Manager within environmental future technology. 

(Right) Samantha Johnson is a Whiskey Blender based in Shelbyville, Kentucky. Starting as a Quality Technician, Samantha has been at the company for over four years, and in addition to blending she is passionate about distillation and maturation.

What made you choose a career in science? 

Jess - I initially chose a career in Engineering and Sustainability, working in the power generation industry for 4 years after I graduated. Pursuing a career in science came slightly later after I joined Diageo as an Environmental Engineer, before moving into Science and Technical as a Project Manager. I wanted to get closer to our core process of distilling and work within a part of the business that understood the minute details of the science behind our products.

Samantha - I really enjoyed my STEM courses in high school, and I decided to continue my studies throughout my undergraduate (Chemistry) and graduate (Agriculture/Food Science) level studies. I love the investigative nature of working in science, and as a Whiskey Blender, I can fulfill this curiosity. 

What have you done at Diageo that you are particularly proud of? 

Samantha - In my first year as a Whiskey Blender I had a blend that was awarded Double Gold at the San Francisco Spirits Competition. That was awesome! Of course, none of this would ever have happened without the support of my colleagues. 

Jess – I’m very proud of the part I played in a variety of sustainable projects at Diageo, including novel energy recovery at our distilleries as well as working on how we can use our raw materials more efficiently. I really feel like I’m making an impact! I’m also proud of the network I’ve built across the business, and the people I’ve met who make my job so enjoyable.

What challenges or barriers have you had to overcome to get where you are today? 

Jess - I have had to overcome nerves and a sense of imposter syndrome that moving between industries brings, as well as the feeling that I am out of my depth. However, I’m so proud of how I have owned the gaps in my technical understanding and have worked hard to address them.

Samantha - Gaining the respect of others when you are starting in your career. To overcome that, I approached my work like there is something to learn from each experience and opportunity. I have found that you gain knowledge and make connections by challenging yourself to try new things. 

Who or what at Diageo inspires you? 

Samantha - My teammates. They inspire and support me to pursue my passions and interests. Diageo creates an environment to be the best and be proud of what we do, and my team embodies Diageo’s core values. 

Jess – A lot! Our stretching Spirit of Progress ambitions and the commitment we are putting toward them is incredible. It is also hard not to be inspired by the passion I see every day towards our brands, and the enthusiasm shown for protecting their reputation and the communities in which we operate.

What advice would you give to women and girls who want to get into science? 

Jess - I know Scientists who design power stations, make life-saving drugs, protect biodiversity, build wind farms and (of course) enable Diageo to create exceptional brands. So my advice would be the same to anyone interested in science regardless of age or gender: There is something here for everyone, with so many interesting paths you can follow with a scientific background.

Samantha - Be strong and courageous. Take the time to discover what you are passionate about and go after it! There are no limits to what you can do.

 

Watch the video to hear more of our female scientists discuss their passion for the industry:

Thumbnail Diegeo Womens Day

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