A significant number of the jobs at Ingredion, a global manufacturer of ingredient solutions, require STEM expertise and the majority of STEM professionals in the workplace are male.
Experts agree that the best time to interest girls in STEM is when they are young. And, female STEM students and professionals tend to remain engaged in STEM when they have access to female STEM role models.
Taking a long-term view of gender diversity in STEM, in 2011 Ingredion became the first corporate sponsor of Girls4Science, a Chicago-area nonprofit dedicated to encouraging girls to pursue a STEM education.
Ingredion provides professional as well as financial support to Girls4Science. Three Ingredion employees participate on the Girls4Science board of directors and have been actively involved in program development.
Ingredion has hosted a number of Girls4Science workshops at its manufacturing and R&D facility in suburban Chicago. Ingredion STEM professionals lead the girls in experiments and serve as role models. Additionally, in 2013 Ingredion began funding an annual scholarship contest to send three Girls4Science students to summer space camp in Huntsville, Alabama.
Ingredion employs several Girls4Science alumnae who have matriculated to universities as summer interns. And, Ingredion CEO, Ilene Gordon, meets with each of them individually to provide direction, encouragement and inspiration.
Though Girls4Science remains a local grassroots organization, student participation has increased almost 10 fold since Ingredion became involved in 2011. And, currently, five other companies are supporting Girls4Science. As other organizations look to stem the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math, Girls4Science could serve as a model in other geographies.
At Ingredion, diversity of all kinds has been a major asset in our business. We are taking action to increase the diversity of our workforce and create a welcoming and inclusive culture which helps us maintain our competitive advantage. The CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion pledge strengthens our commitment and will help us enhance our efforts by enabling us to learn from other leading organizations.