As part of International Women’s Month, we’re speaking to our colleagues in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Women for 24% of the STEM workforce ion 2019. This is only expected to rise to 20% by 2030.
To celebrate International Women’s Month and promote gender equality in the fields, we’re highlighting colleagues who are “breaking the bias” and bringing innovation into their subjects.
About Iyabosola Miedzianowska
Iyabosola (Yabby) Miedzianowska is a Food Technologist for our LAFIC programme, as well as a Graduate Teching Assistant in LSBU's School of Applied Sciences.
Yabby has 21 years multi-category experience of the food manufacturing and hospitality industry. She has extensive knowledge and experience in roles spanning from new process and product development, quality assurance, technical, food safety and compliance, as well as a seasoned trainer.Her experience encompasses bakery goods and patisserie, chilled high-risk foods and ready meals, milk production and packaging, fermented and non-alcoholic drinks alongside tea and beverages.
Yabby had worked with the large manufacturers, major retailers, the NHS and University students.Currently, Yabby helps SMEs to see their ideas developed to a household brand through the LAFIC programme.
About Women in Food Sector
Despite the stereotypes, representation of women in the food sector is relatively poor. According to the Big Hospitality, just 25% of chefs in the UK are female; and even though 54% of the hospitality workforce is female, men hold the majority of senior restaurant and catering roles. In food science in the US (no data is available for the UK), women earn an average of 75% of the men's median salary.
Read on to get to know Yabby’s role at SBI, her every day work and her journey as a woman in STEM.
Hello Yabby, please tell us about yourself?
My name is Iyabosola Miedzianowska but I am happy to be called Yabby. I am a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the School of Applied Sciences; I deliver a Level 6 NPD course in the National Bakery School, and I also work with SMEs on the LAFIC project on SBI while working on getting a PhD degree.
Outside of work I have a 2 and a half-year old son who keeps me on my toes all day long, if we are not on the allotment planting vegetables with daddy and admiring nature then we are indoors learning something new.
How long have you been working at SBI/LSBU
I joined LSBU fully in 2020 but did some lecturing in the 2018/19 academic year. Currently I am working with SMEs on LAFIC (London Agric Food Innovation Clinic) projects.
Please describe to us what your day-to-day life looks at your job?
I guess no two days are the same, but typically I would look through projects I am working on and what schedules I have in place to progress such projects. At a point in time, I may be chasing results of analysis from the laboratory, doing some research on a particular product to enable its reformulation while some other time I may be in back-to-back virtual meeting all day training, mentoring or transferring knowledge to SME representatives. I could even be in the laboratory all day working on product development with my students.
Why do you believe celebrating International Women's Day and Month is important?
I believe it is a good way to highlight the importance of women in the society, it is a day of recognition for the women who are holding the fort against all odds. I try not to laze around all day doing nothing trying to celebrate … but yeah, before Covid I would normally go out with a couple of friends for a nice evening out – just us “girls’ day out”.
‘Breaking the Bias" - I believe this has a lot more deeper meaning. Tackling discrimination and forging an equal future is just the peripheral.
Have you had any challenges in your education or career because of your gender? How did you overcome them?
I’ve had a couple of instances, the one that always come to mind was when I was told by a chef that I am not in position to correct him on the job as he does not take orders from women during food safety audits, I had this documented in the audits feedback and got his managers to sort it out.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you've ever received?
Take note of people you meet on your way up the ladder, try lift as much up as you can but never underestimate the power of forging ahead that lies within you. It reflects the importance of determination and of building a strong teamwork. This has given me zeal to keep on keeping on. My dad would always use it whenever he tries to encourage me to take the next big step, or when am faced with difficulties and sought his opinion or when am being let down by someone.
What can we do to encourage more women to enter STEM?
I feel making the environment a lot more positive and women friendly – more women lecturers, more recognition for women that go above and beyond, for example, would encourage more women to enter STEM.
What is the most crucial message you would like to express to young women considering careers in STEM?
Go get it girl, though there would be some challenges but stay focused and positive, you can do it!
Is there somebody in your professional life who inspires you?
Yes, I really don’t know how she does it but she could appear to be very disorganized but she’s so articulate and sound, full of knowledge and has an ability of linking it all together to make a lot of sense – if you know what I meant.
Why do you believe workplace diversity is so important?
It brings about not just a sense of belonging but a means of identifying as a big family where everyone is unique in their difference yet accepting each other unifies the workplace team. I think there is an equal balance, women are well represented within my department. Working in an equal environment makes everyone stay focused on the big picture of the team.
Which inspirational women, living or dead, would you invite to dinner and why?
Marie Curie, she inspires me as a chemist Polish French lady who conducted quite a lot of scientific work that led to the discovery of some elements. Inviting her to dinner would make me ask her questions on how she did it – becoming the first woman professor in a field where a lot of women wouldn’t venture into!
Are you a food & beverage innovator looking for support to launch your product to market? You can work with Yabby through our LAFIC programme -apply today at www.lafic.co.uk.
Read more from our highlighted Women in STEM series on our blog.
Big Hospitality (2021) Number of female chefs in UK rises by a third