International Women and girls in Science Day is an annual holiday on February 11. Clemson Packaging Science student and Sonoco Institute print lab assistant, Maggie Dailey, is a junior in the major with an emphasis in graphics and design. As a woman in science, Dailey shares why she chose Packaging Science and why she believe women should pursue careers in science!
My interest in packaging began in my senior year of high school when I was faced with the challenge of opening the Zyrtec blister pack. It was so difficult to get the singular pill out and when I finally pushed hard enough, the pill came out cracked in half. My parents and I joked around about how the format of the package should definitely be changed and that was that. In May of my senior year, I decided on going to Clemson, with no direction on what I wanted to study when I got there. A couple months later, freshman orientation was upon me and I figured I would just major in Biology because why not. After my first day there, I had heard talk of a major called Packaging Science. I had heard bits and pieces of what it may entail, but I wasn’t introduced to it fully until Ms. Pat Marcondes took the time to sit with my mom and I and explain it in depth. That is when I knew this major seemed like something I could excel in and I declared it as my major. Personally, I loved how this major was its own little niche out in the industry and not a basic major every other college student pursues. The opportunities in this field seemed endless in all parts of the world, which was a major factor that stood out to me. It is crazy to think that everything we touch on a day to day basis has been in a package at some point, without us even realizing it. When beginning my curriculum at
Clemson, I soon came to the realization that there is an immense amount of work that goes into developing and packaging a product. Packaging Science is a dynamic major that integrates engineering, design and business to develop and design product packaging for a range of consumer goods. This major allows me to think outside the box, while also pushing me to think outside my comfort zone. From a young age, I always knew I wanted my career to be hands-on. I am a hands-on and visual learner and this major was just that. I recently completed a six-month co-op at Unilever, where I had the opportunity to work on the hair care team and develop and refine different package formats for brands such as TRESemme, Suave and Dove. My favorite part of this co-op was being able to see my hard work on the shelf in stores in real-time. Packaging Science allows me to explore packaging from start to finish – from raw materials to recycling. With that being said, there are so many aspects that both interest and excite me for the future. The Packaging Science program has afforded with me so many opportunities including my co-op at Unilever and the UPIC internship in the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics’ printing lab. I cannot wait to see what’s in store for me in the future!
To start off with some statistics, the United States will need 1.7 million more engineers and computing professionals before 2025 to keep up with technological advancements, yet women make up only 12 percent of engineers and 26 percent of computing professionals according to a 2015 executive report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Those numbers might seem shocking to some, while serving as a wakeup call for others. While STEM is a growing occupational option, the number of women in these careers is often lower than men, resulting in a large gender gap. This all starts with the number of degrees in STEM fields that women earn. A lot of women have degrees in social sciences and biological sciences, yet there are way fewer women with degrees in engineering fields. Engineering has the smallest amount of women in most STEM education fields, and is seeing very little growth in the number of women getting engineering degrees, making the gap grow even wider. This holds true for packaging professionals as well. With that being said, it’s important for women to be a larger part of science, engineering and tech industries because of their unique perspectives, voices and experiences. A lot of careers involving science and engineering are team-based. As a woman in the packaging industry, I love working with a team where I am able to think up new ideas about how a certain package works and the challenges that may come along with it. Women always offer a different, fresh perspective to things which is why we should be well represented out there in the real world. It is important to hear from all parties before making decisions for a big company. Specifically, during my time at Unilever I worked on a team that was all female packaging engineers. I absolutely loved hearing their insight and seeing how they empowered each other and me in every project we worked on. In addition, women make up a larger percentage of the consumer market than men. Women should have more say in how a product/package is developed and how that said product is marketed to consumers. STEM careers promote women’s abilities to contribute to their communities in more meaningful ways. Two people that have really inspired me throughout my journey as a STEM major are Dr. Heather Batt and my mentor at Unilever, Lindsey Fiumara. First, Dr. Heather Batt is the best and most passionate teacher I have had at Clemson thus far. She is extremely knowledgeable in what she teaches and she expels her joy onto her students. She empowers me and inspires me to reach a level of professionalism just like her. Her love for packaging is contagious and excites me every day to be a strong, determined female packaging professional. Lastly, my mentor Lindsey at Unilever is someone who served as guiding force throughout my entire co-op and we still remain close today. She has been a packaging professional for 11 years at Unilever where she currently serves as Packaging Manager for the hair team. She provided me with such an enriching virtual co-op experience and showed me so much throughout my time there. In conclusion, every woman should consider pursuing a career in science because it is beyond rewarding.
By Maggie Dailey, Hometown: Long Island, NY