Biology. Chemistry. Physics. These disciplines provide the foundation for a young person’s introduction to the sciences throughout their formative years. For those who show an interest in continuing their scientific studies into college and their professional careers, there are a myriad of options to choose from.
As we continue to celebrate the accomplishments of women in food science during Women’s History Month, we asked our panel of five female members if they had to do it all over again, would they choose food science. There was overwhelming consensus that yes, they most definitely would. They also had these words of encouragement for the next generation of female food scientists.
Longtime IFT member, retired R&D leaders at PepsiCo, and current Feeding Tomorrow chair Nancy Moriarty, PhD, suggests thinking about the future a little differently. “There are many sciences related to food. You can focus your studies on a specialty or study across the many areas of food science as an undergrad, and if you choose to continue your education further, pursue many diverse options as a grad student. You don’t have to go into a food science program to work with foods. You can study engineering, microbiology, or, like me, nutrition, and have a successful career with foods.”
IFT member Nicole Whitney, an R&D manager at Bigelow Tea, echoed Nancy’s comments. “There are so many aspects of food science to explore. The world is complex and has a diverse need for different food types and technologies worldwide. Find what you enjoy, and you will make a difference and leave an impact on people in both tiny and large ways every day.”
According to IFT member Tamanna Ramesh, CFS, a scientist on the Kraft Heinz Ingredients R&D team, pursuing your passions, whatever they may be, is the name of the game. “Don’t look at a job as a mode of survival or income. Instead, look beyond that and seek to understand your passion, tailor your skillset accordingly, and remain focused on the impact you want to create. It is important for women to own their dreams and career. It is also important they identify mentors who can support them, bring clarity to their thoughts as they begin to take on leadership roles, and push themselves out of their comfort zones to achieve more.”
IFT member Joy Dell’Aringa, a scientific marketing manager at bioMérieux, couldn’t agree more and thinks organizations like IFT are a great avenue to find those supportive mentors and so much more. “The science of food is so vast. Find what you are interested in and passionate about. There are multiple pathways into the food industry. Also, get involved with organizations like IFT, IFTSA, and Feeding Tomorrow early and often. The skills you’ll learn, the network you’ll build, and the friendships you’ll make will be just as valuable as your course work.”
If you are still unsure despite these words of wisdom, food structure scientist at Mars Wrigley and IFTSA Past President Amy DeJong, PhD is giving it to you straight. “Do it! You won’t regret it. Oh, and get involved in IFTSA.”
By Eric Schneider, Senior Vice President for Strategy and Communications, IFT