Olay Women In STEM

Six fearless women connected by a mission to create a bright future

Women-In-STEM

Did you know that women wrote the first computer program and helped put a man on the moon? According to the National Science Board, women make up half of the total US college-educated workforce, but only 28% of the science and engineering workforce.We think it’s time to change that.

Seven Girls Who Code students designed & built the page you’re on now. They interviewed some of Olay’s Fearless women who work in STEM fields and captured their inspiring stories below.

Learn more about the amazing students who built this page here.

Lashaunda McNeil

Lashaunda McNeil, Ph.D.

SKIN CARE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

What advice would you give to young girls in high school interested in STEM fields?

Don’t put any limits on yourself, don’t play it safe, and don’t hold yourself back because other people have told you your chosen field is hard. Don’t let the experiences of others define YOUR experience.

What is one thing you wish you would have known at the beginning of your career that you know now?

Getting a Ph.D. is an independent exercise. I wish I realized how important collaboration is earlier, since collaboration is the key to successful innovation.

What were your biggest challenges being a woman in STEM?

Your biggest challenge is you. You carry the burden of your past experiences and failures, and that can hold you back. You can’t change the past but you can change your mindset.

What does STEM mean to you?

STEM is all about interdisciplinary learning. It’s a common language spoken between the scientists, the technicians, the engineers and the mathematicians, all integrating their separate knowledge into collaborative innovation.

Sarah Dowell

Sarah Dowell

SKIN CARE PACKAGE DEVELOPMENT

What advice would you give to young girls in high school interested in STEM fields?

Stick with it. There will be challenges. When I earned my mechanical engineering degree, there were only four women in my entire graduating class. Find those who you can connect to. Find those that challenge your point of view.

What’s the most promising change you’ve seen come to life in the STEM field?

Technology is continuously advancing. IT was not as developed when I was in school. Programs that support women or minorities are more prevalent now than when I was in school. As technology advances, there is more of an intentional shift in broadening the base.

What does STEM mean to you?

STEM is a space with heavy emphasis on math and science and it's ever-changing. The technology changes, and the players also change.

How has the support (or lack thereof) of other women in your field contributed to your success?

I don’t like being told I can’t do something. I wanted to prove that gender doesn’t matter in STEM. That motivated me, it got me through some classes and situations that I might otherwise have given up on.

Kristen Durst

Kristen Durst

SENIOR BUSINESS ANALYST, SKIN CARE

What advice would you give to young girls in high school interested in STEM fields?

Take as many courses and opportunities as you can to gain experience. Experiences can completely change your career trajectory.

What is one thing you wish you would have known at the beginning of your career that you know now?

Get outside of your comfort zone. I took programming courses in college that completely changed my thinking so my advice is to try as many things as possible.

Why is it so imperative to have women represented in these roles?

It’s very important to have diversity. People have different experiences and thoughts, so more diversity means different perspectives coming together.

Who were your role models growing up?

My mom is an accountant, which was a field dominated by men. When my mom applied to college, some colleges didn’t accept women, but because of her I grew up thinking that gender doesn’t matter when it comes to what you’re capable of in your education and career.

Mridula Manohar

Mridula Manohar

PRODUCT DESIGN RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

What advice would you give to young girls in high school interested in STEM fields?

Don’t be intimidated. Learn, meet people, shadow people, ask a lot of questions, read a lot, figure out what you like, and above all, don’t be afraid to go get what you want.

What’s the most promising change you’ve seen come to life in the STEM field?

In general, people are having more conversations about the gender gap and equality, and these conversations are becoming less taboo, which makes STEM a more equal playing field for everyone.

How has the support (or lack thereof) of other women in your field contributed to your success?

Your success is never just you when you’re in a team. I had a fantastic environment with many mentors, male and female, that were all supportive and vested in my success. It was competitive, but the kind of competition based on wanting each other to succeed.

Who were your role models growing up?

My mom and my aunt are both very strong in math and always encouraged me to learn more about STEM. I had a great advisor in college (one of few women in biochem that had a lab), and peers at Olay and P&G who are great resources. There’s no lack of support here.

Vasthy Marrero Lebrónr

Vasthy Marrero Lebrón

SKIN CARE INITIATIVE OPERATIONS LEADER, PRODUCT SUPPLY

What advice would you give to young girls in high school interested in STEM fields?

If you are up for something and have a passion for it, strive for it. Don’t doubt yourself and get a mentor if possible.

What’s the most promising change that has come to life in the STEM field?

There is an increase of women in STEM, but we still need more initiatives like Girls Who Code to continue gaining more interest. These students are our future.

Why is it important to have women represented in STEM roles?

Women bring something different to the table. There is something inside our DNA that makes us the whole package. Even when I was in college, I found that women bring variety to the table and the way we show up is unique compared to men.

Being a woman, was it difficult to navigate a workplace dominated by men?

At first I didn’t really think about it when attending university in Puerto Rico since there was a lot of female representation. When I got my first job, out of 7 engineers, I was the only female. I realized it can be hard to get your voice heard, and sometimes I still find myself being the only woman in the room. I make it count and work to be my best every day.

Dr. Frauke Neuser

Dr. Frauke Neuser, Ph.D.

SCIENCE AND INNOVATION COMMUNICATIONS

What advice would you give to young girls in high school interested in STEM fields?

Follow your passion. Don’t go for a field just because of “great career prospects” if it doesn’t really interest you.

What’s a “I just landed on the moon” type of accomplishment you’ve achieved in your career?

A few years ago Olay did an amazing study with Harvard Medical School and 23andMe to identify a group of women with a unique biological skin fingerprint that helped them look 10 years younger, which inspired us to make new Olay innovations.

What is one thing you wish you would have known at the beginning of your career that you know now?

Long-term planning can be useful, but it can also get in the way. Sometimes it’s really best to go with the flow.

How has the support (or lack thereof) of other women in your field contributed to your success?

Working in STEM and beauty feels really special because there have always been great women around me. It feels like a special sisterhood.