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Home » Women in STEM » Helping women recognise the value they can bring with a career in STEM

Patricia Harrington

IT Business Analyst, PepsiCo Ireland

Gráinne Wrixon

R&D Snr Manager Global Supplier Quality, PepsiCo Ireland

Janet Crowley

R&D Senior Laboratory Manager, PepsiCo Ireland

Three leaders from a multinational food and beverage corporation are helping to attract women into STEM jobs via strong community partnerships and dynamic mentorship programmes.

Why have you partnered with ‘I WISH’?

Patricia Harrington (PH): It’s an Irish-based volunteer-led community committed to showcasing the power of science, technology, engineering and maths to female students in Transition Year. It demonstrates that STEM could be an exciting career choice for them.  

How does the company get involved with I WISH?

PH: I WISH holds events which, among other things, feature industry stands and talks from inspiring female STEM role models. I co-lead PepsiCo’s involvement with them, and we’ve been a sponsor since their inception in 2015. This year’s event was hybrid — held at the RDS Arena in Dublin and online — and our R&D and IT teams were on hand to meet students and teachers across Ireland and overseas, talk to them about the work we do and showcase the technology we use. 

What do you want to accomplish with your participation in I WISH?

PH: We want to increase students’ confidence in STEM and open their eyes to the range of opportunity that exists and the different routes into our company. In the run-up to this year’s event, we hosted an Instagram takeover, which was a great way for us to showcase role models we have across the whole company — not just R&D and IT. 

The students of today are the employees of tomorrow.

Janet Crowley

What is ‘Million Women Mentors’?

Gráinne Wrixon (GW): It’s an international network, founded in 2014 and supported by PepsiCo, that leverages mentorship to encourage girls and women into STEM careers — I co-lead the chapter in Ireland. We work with University College Cork and Munster Technological University to connect experienced STEM professionals with students to foster their interest in technical fields and offer them career wisdom. 

What can an initiative like this achieve?

GW: It gives students the chance to find out about CV prep and career opportunities after university, practise job interview techniques and discover what a day in the life of a STEM employee involves. We offer networking opportunities and site tours — often the first time they’ll have seen the inside of a manufacturing plant — and help them focus on their strengths with an online strengths profile and workshop to help them recognise the value they can bring to a career in STEM.

Search career opportunities at PepsiCo.

Is this an exciting time to be involved in STEM?

GW: Yes, because it’s a changing landscape. We want to prepare young women to be part of the STEM workforce of the future and be ready for new STEM roles that are yet to be developed. 

What does being a mentor entail?

Janet Crowley (JC): Over the years, I’ve mentored college students, interns and PepsiCo employees. The students of today are the employees of tomorrow, so it’s always interesting to share my career experiences with them; help them with their CV skills; and talk to them about opportunities within the company. Being a mentor is mutually beneficial because it helps me, as a manager, meet different people and understand diverse viewpoints. 

Why are mentorships important for mentees?

JC: Our student mentees tell us that it’s a way for them to find out about the range of STEM roles within the company. We also get non-verbal feedback from them because we see them developing in confidence as the weeks and months progress. They become more open in discussions and ask more questions.

What’s the most fulfilling part of being a mentor?

JC: Working closely with the workforce of the future. STEM careers are open to young women, and we aim to empower them to pursue this route. They should have the opportunity to use their skills, play on their strengths — and just go for it.

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