International Women's Day - Women in STEM
Happy International Women’s Day. It’s a time to celebrate women's achievements, take action for equality, and raise awareness against bias. IWD promotes a number of ‘missions’ to help develop a gender equal world.
One such mission is to elevate women forging change via technology and sustainability in communities, workplaces, and beyond. Diverse role models can empower women and girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), an area so broad, it gives you endless opportunities to follow your passions.
People who work in STEM are often the hidden heroes, working behind the scenes to keep things functioning and moving forward. To mark International Women’s Day, we thought we’d talk to our own woman in STEM, Adnams Quality Manager, Dawn Baldry.
Beer and a love of science drew Dawn to brewing. Before coming to Adnams, she worked in the lab at a maltings; analysing and testing this key raw ingredient for all the things that interested brewers.
“I enjoyed working in the lab. I was doing what I loved - working in science. The downside of working in malt is that you can’t try the finished product, so when an opportunity of a role at Greene King came up, I jumped at it,” said Dawn.
“The Lab Manager at Greene King, Susan Chisholm, encouraged us to get some formal brewing qualifications with the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. I started off with my General Certificate in Brewing and then my Diploma.”
With Susan’s support, Dawn became brewing shift manager at Greene King, a job that was supposed to last three months and ended up lasting three years. Susan has influenced many women in brewing including Dawn and Belinda Jennings, who previously brewed at Adnams, and is now working with suppliers to the industry.
Dawn’s road towards the Master Brewer qualification started with her move to shift manager: “It took me through the practical side of brewing. You need the day-to-day experience when working towards that qualification.” she added.
Now with Adnams, Dawn is putting that practical experience to good use, overseeing quality control and procedures across our production areas. “My workdays are extremely varied, which is the joy of brewing! I wouldn’t want it any other way. One day I could be setting up trials in the sample room with various beers, the next I could be setting up new quality processes. I am involved in our daily tastings, which sounds exciting, although 9.30 in the morning would not be everyone’s choice.”
Inspired by her parent’s love of their local pub, Dawn took an interest in beer when she reached drinking age. She has never really ventured over to wine or spirits, in terms of personal preference: “Stouts and porters are my favourite. I find them easy to drink and have always preferred a darker, bitter beer. I have learnt to appreciate all styles of beer but always go back to stout,” she enthused.
“You have to have a passion for the product. I didn’t set out to get to where I am, but with the help from those around me, many of whom were women, I have found a job I not only enjoy, but love doing. The great thing about brewing is it covers all the sciences, there’s lots of variety as it’s a wonderfully broad subject. The laboratory is a breeding ground for brewers – a lot of people start off in the lab and move onwards. It is a great foundation.”
In our 150th year, Adnams continuing success may come into even sharper focus for those focussed on quality, like Dawn. “I am proud to work for a company that has been around for so long and help continue the fantastic reputation of its products and the brand.”
When we asked Dawn what the future holds for and her team, her thoughts return to beer: “I really hope to see more appreciation for cask beer in the future. I have always drunk cask beer; it’s definitely the drink of choice for me. It probably means more work for me and the team, but we like keeping busy.”
…and for women in the industry? “There are more women in the brewing industry than you think, working behind the scenes in all sorts of roles, looking after yeast, tasting products for consistency, and keeping things moving forward. Brewster is the female term for brewer. Women have been involved from its humble beginnings, so we are reclaiming that heritage.”