Press Release
University of Phoenix and PepsiCo Join Forces for Million Women Mentors Program to Help Reduce Gender Gap by Encouraging Women to Enter STEM-Related Fields

University of Phoenix® and PepsiCo today announced cooperation on a mentorship program designed to encourage more women to enter the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and finance workforces to help women bridge the gender gap and fill the growing number of open positions in STEM fields.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts STEM job openings to grow to more than nine million from 2012-2022,1 yet women make up only 29 percent of the STEM workforce, according to the National Science Foundation’s 2016 Science and Engineering Indicators report.2 Research suggests that more gender-diverse companies outperform their competitors. Catalyst discovered correlations that companies with females in leadership positions tend to experience a higher return on investment, sales and equity.3 Despite women’s potential impact in organizations and the growing need, many still are not interested in pursuing STEM careers.4

“Throughout the industry we see a lack of female role models in STEM professions. Without vocal leaders to empower women and a more focused effort to change the perception that STEM careers are for men, the job gap may continue to increase,” said Dennis Bonilla, executive dean, College of Information Systems and Technology and School of Business for University of Phoenix. “This is a critical time for finding solutions to fill job openings with qualified individuals. Women bring a great deal of value and unique insight and experience to leadership roles and organizations. We hope this program can play a part in the solution of increasing the number of women in STEM-related careers.”

Through the cooperation between PepsiCo and University of Phoenix, 48 female students from the University’s College of Information Systems and Technology and School of Business will be paired with PepsiCo IT and finance leaders to receive career advice and resources. The cooperation began last year through a pilot of the mentorship program that included 20 of the University’s top female students from the College of Information Systems and Technology who each completed 20 mentorship hours with PepsiCo IT employees. This year, the program will be expanded to also include students in the business program.

“Increasing opportunities and exposure to leadership and mentorship in these industries will help encourage women to explore opportunities where they can bring valuable perspective and insight,” said Maria Velissariou, PepsiCo vice president of Nutrition R&D and lead of Million Women Mentors global expansion. “Developing talent is at the heart of PepsiCo’s values. We are very excited to partner with University of Phoenix and through Million Women Mentors help their students hone STEM and leadership skills for successful careers.”

University of Phoenix has long been dedicated to the advancement of career-relevant higher education for women. The majority of University’s students (66 percent), alumni (63 percent) and faculty (56 percent) are women. One-fourth of students in the College of Information Systems and Technology and more than half (57 percent) of students in the School of Business are female.

To be considered for the PepsiCo Mentorship program, University of Phoenix students must hold a GPA of 3.9 or higher, submit an application with two essays, and display a commitment to pursuing academic and career excellence in the fields of STEM and finance. To effectively complete the program, students must complete a minimum of 20 mentorship hours over the course of the 12-month program.

The cooperation is an extension of PepsiCo’s participation in the Million Women Mentors (MWM) program, a global initiative of STEMConnector that launched in 2014 with the goal of providing 1 million mentoring relationships to girls and women, helping them to choose, persist and succeed in STEM programs and careers.

For more information on the University of Phoenix and PepsiCo mentorship program, email [email protected].



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