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Diageo celebrated International Day of Women & Girls in Science

Diageo celebrated International Day of Women & Girls in Science

 February 16, 2023

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February 11th 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 per cent 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.

Diageo is fully committed to championing female representation within the business and is proud of the talented and dedicated scientists Diageo employs across its markets that continue to push the company forward.

So, to mark the occasion, Diageo spoke to two female scientists at the company 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.

Meet Jess and Samantha

Jessica (Jess) Warnock [pictured left] is a Special Projects Distillation Manager within Diageo’s Research and Development 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. 

Samantha Johnson [pictured right] 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.

Choosing a science career

Jess initially chose a career in Engineering and Sustainability, working in the power generation industry for four years after she graduated. Pursuing a career in science came slightly later after Jess 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," explains Jess.

Samantha chose a career in science because she really enjoyed her STEM courses in high school. Samantha decided to continue her studies throughout her 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," says Samantha.

Proud of their work at Diageo

Samantha and Jess shared what they've done at Diageo that has made them particularly proud.

"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," explains Samantha. 

Meanwhile, Jess is very proud of the part she played in a variety of sustainable projects at Diageo, including novel energy recovery at Diageo's distilleries as well as working on how the company can use 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," says Jess. 

Overcoming challenges and barriers

Jess and Samantha have both overcome some challenges and barriers in their careers

Jess has have had to overcome nerves and a sense of imposter syndrome that moving between industries brings, as well as the feeling that she is out of her depth.

"However, I’m so proud of how I have owned the gaps in my technical understanding and have worked hard to address them," adds Jess. 

Samantha has worked to gain the respect of others when she was starting her 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," comments Samantha.

Finding inspiration in Diageo career

At Diageo, Samantha is inspired by her teammates. They inspire and support Samantha to pursue her 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," says Samantha.

Jess is inspired by "a lot" at the company. Jess describes Diageo's Spirit of Progress ambitions and the commitment Diageo is putting toward them as "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," says Jess.

Sharing advice for aspiring STEM professionals

Finally, Jess and Samantha share their advice for women and girls who want to get into science.

"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," says Jess.

"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," adds Samantha.

Women thrive in STEM careers at Diageo

Diageo looks for talented women like Jess and Samantha to bring passion, curiosity, and ambition to the company.

With immense opportunities to develop, Diageo is the place to forge a career to new heights.


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