The United Nations and its worldwide partners have named February 11th the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Today and every day, we celebrate the female employees at McCormick who are leading the way in science and innovation.
In a world where women make up less than 30 percent of scientific and technological research jobs, McCormick is proud to employ many female scientists across the globe and help bridge the gender gap that many Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields face today.
And through a partnership with Women In Bio (WIB), a national organization that supports growth, diversity and inclusion for women in life sciences, McCormick R&D members are expanding their career journey.
Teri Mascuch, director of Technical Innovation at McCormick, describes her WIB membership as being “so very helpful” for her career development and network. “I find it supportive to understand how women in science have and continue to promote a balance of voices in academics and research,” Teri said.
In her role, Teri works for stakeholders by creating opportunities for novel ingredients and flavor solution tools for foods and beverages. In other words, her team is the “and” between Research and Development.
“New foods and beverages on the market are using food materials that sometimes have flavor flaws,” Teri said. “Soy can be earthy and bitter, some grains have cardboard-like aftertastes while others have metallic aftertastes, plant-based milks benefit from sugar to enhance flavor yet adding sugar can present other problems. So, we scour the market globally for new product introductions, we get them in, and we taste them and understand the food chemistry. We’ll make something that’s 70-80 percent similar, and we find ways to make it taste better, be it through herbs and spices, extracts, flavors or flavor modulators, enhancers and maskers.”
Growing up, Teri didn’t want to be a scientist. “I grew up with a family in the flavor and the health industry,” she said with a smile. “I wanted to be a dancer. They didn't support that. Then I wanted to be a mechanic. They didn't support that. This was the path of least resistance.”
As a dietitian, Teri began her career in hospitals and clinical nutrition. However, she soon realized returning to school for her master’s in Food Science would provide her a better career path where she still could promote healthy foods and eating. Earlier in her career, she found leadership tracks weren’t as open for females as they are now. But, she says that McCormick and the company’s Chief Science Officer (CSO) have always supported women in leadership. When she became McCormick’s director of Technical Innovation in 2015, Teri found Women in Bio (WIB) and “fell in love with the focus on development for female scientists.”
Teri has been a member of WIB for five years, and she actively participates in WIB’s “Mentors, Advisors, Peers, and Sponsorship” group (MAPS).
“MAPS opened me up to new thinking and to networks of scientists that provided opportunities to expand my knowledge as well as growth and development pathways that are complementary to my current role at McCormick,” Teri said. “WIB offers monthly meetings and development opportunities for women to improve their professional brand, participate in the Maryland STEM Festivals, volunteer opportunities, national webinars, and other national events and conferences.”
In an effort to share her love of WIB with other women at McCormick, Teri organized a Lunch & Learn with WIB and McCormick’s Women’s International Network (WIN) Employee Ambassador Group (EAG). WIB currently has 13 chapters across North America. But Teri says there’s discussion of starting a chapter in Baltimore County so more women scientists at McCormick can participate in the WIB development programs like MAPS or the Women in Bio Boardroom Ready program, which provides board certification training in financial literacy, board governance, financial strategy, crisis management, investor relations, and more.
Teri, who sits on the American Diabetes Association of Maryland Board, says WIB is a great opportunity for all scientists but especially “rising star scientists” at McCormick. “I am happy with my charitable board experiences,” she says. “Yet as a younger scientist, I would have very much loved such a development opportunity.”