$ 150,000 Frito-Lay scholarship aims to stimulate and conserve STEM diversity

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Hoping to help increase and retain the number of black Americans in STEM-related fields, Frito-Lay Variety Packs is supporting 50 girls to attend Space Camp over the next five years.

The potato chip maker donates $ 150,000 to set up the “Space For Her” scholarship fund. Another part of the fund is the “Space For Her” mentoring program. It is designed to offer coaching and advice on different science and technology career paths for women leaders in STEM, including engineering, space exploration and food science for name a few.

Frito-Lay, the National Urban League and UnidosUS this year selected 12 black and LatinX girls aged 11 to 15 with a passion for STEM to be part of the inaugural class of the scholarship fund.

The action comes as space exploration and the STEM field have been hot topics recently. Although STEM fields are expected to experience the highest growth in the number of jobs by 2030, only 28% of the STEM workforce are women, and only 7% are black and 6% are Latinx / Hispanic, according to a press release.

The STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workforce is said to have grown rapidly over the past few decades. Yet black and Hispanic workers remain under-represented in STEM jobs relative to their share of the U.S. workforce, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. government data.

It indicates that the representation of women varies considerably across the job groups that make up the STEM workforce. In health-related jobs, women are overrepresented compared to their 47% share of the overall workforce, while they remain underrepresented in IT and engineering jobs.

Frito-Lay says the scholarship fund and mentorship program are meant to help close the gap. Doritos Tortilla Chips, Lay’s Potato Chips and Cheetos are among the products produced by the company.

“Girls’ enthusiasm for STEM is only one piece of the puzzle,” said Marissa Solis, senior vice president of marketing, Frito-Lay North America. “We need to address the issue of their retention in this area by giving more access to programs, mentors and resources.

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