International Day of Women & Girls in Science 2020


For the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February, we’ve taken a snapshot of some of our amazing scientists contributing to our work, all around the world.

In almost every household, in almost any part of the world, you will likely find products that contain Tate & Lyle ingredients. None of this would be possible, though, without the scientific ingenuity that goes into everything we produce.

Whether it’s our gut-friendly fibres that add proven health benefits; our great-tasting, low-calorie sweeteners that take trillions of calories out of the world’s diet; our texturants that make desserts smooth and creamy; our stabilising solutions that keep every mouthful delicious for weeks; or our industrial starches that make it possible for online retailers to use recyclable packaging to deliver goods in perfect condition – we have teams of scientists all over the world striving to help us make the everyday extraordinary!

Kavita Karnik, VP, Global Nutrition and Open Innovation

Kavita Karnik, VP, Global Nutrition and Open Innovation

“I lead a global team of Nutrition Scientists within Tate & Lyle. I also contribute to our Open Innovation scouting activities.

“As a nutrition scientist, having the opportunity to explore evidence behind the role of food and ingredients, and then to help bring it to life with our customers, is the best job I could have asked for! I get to do ‘real science’ AND get the opportunity to help translate that into usable insights for improving public health. What’s not to like?!

“Growing up in India, in a strong patriarchal society, I have always been aware of the gender-driven disparity within the society around me, in every aspect of life; irrespective of the socioeconomic background. I was very lucky to have parents who went out of their way to emphasise that I can achieve anything I set my heart on, if I am willing to work hard.

“I enjoyed STEM subjects in school, and was fascinated by the scientific method of answering ‘why’ and ‘how’. Education, followed by a career in science, was the natural way forward. Later on, I was fortunate to have my first boss as my mentor, who respected me as a subject-matter expert, even when I was fresh out of my PhD. He insisted on breaking hierarchy by trusting me to take decisions in my area, allowing me to make mistakes along the way and building my confidence as a result!

“At Tate & Lyle, I feel that we value and respect our employees irrespective of their gender! We have active forums such as the Professional Women’s Network to voice and discuss issues and support each other. I lead a team of scientists made up of over 80% women, which is a great example of this!”

Isabel Thais, Microbiologist

Thais Isabel, Microbiologist, Santa Rosa, Brazil

“In the Santa Rosa plant laboratory, I grow and maintain the filamentous fungus responsible for citric acid production. I also monitor fermentation conditions, external contaminations and make sure that each fungus is doing its job well.

“The best thing about my job in science is the opportunity to develop and learn more every day. Each fermentation is a new challenge and a new opportunity to study more about citric acid fermentation.

“I have worked in science since graduating in biology. I always loved research, so after graduation I continued studying for my Master’s degree in Clinical Analysis and PhD in Bioscience and Biotechnology. After my PhD, I continued working with molecular biology and immunology in Postdoctoral positions.

“After 11 years in research, I joined Tate & Lyle! It was a dream come true because I have always wanted to work for a company using my skills as a researcher. Tate & Lyle is a great company to work for, as a woman and as an employee. In Santa Rosa, the facility used to be mostly male, but now things are changing and we have more women working in all areas. In the laboratory, for example, we employ three women and one female student intern.

“I think we can encourage more girls into science-related careers by giving more opportunities and internships in male-dominated workplaces. We can also do more to encourage them to be more independent, to study more and to see within themselves the great potential for their dream careers.

Judy Whaley, Senior Vice President, Global R&D

Judy Whaley, Senior Vice President, Global R&D

“As the leader of our global R&D team, I am responsible for creating a talented engaged team, establishing strong technology programs, and delivering a return on investment for the ingredients we develop and launch.

“Our team of scientists is engaged in reviewing the scientific literature to uncover new technology, conducting lab experiments to confirm benefits, interviewing customers to understand unmet needs and technical requirements, scaling up ingredient production in our manufacturing facilities, and supporting our Application and Technical Service teams globally during launch.

“I love creating something new from beginning to end; being in science allows me to do this. It is also great to have the flash of insight about ‘how things work’, which occurs when researching materials. I also love seeing how an idea that only exists in the head of an inventor can be pursued all the way to the production of a new food ingredient, to then seeing that new ingredient on the label of commercial consumer brands in the grocery store.

“I first noticed a gender split during my undergraduate career at Stanford, where it was immediately evident in the engineering school that fewer women were taking engineering majors. While my major, Chemical Engineering, had about 40% women, across the broader set of engineering disciplines, there was a much lower rate of participation.

“When I joined the industry, it was immediately noticeable that there were no women in the technical leadership roles for our business. Over time, this has changed and it is increasingly apparent that women are having great success in moving into management roles in technical careers. In our R&D team today, we have four women and three men in management roles.

“I’ve been fortunate to learn from a range of people, including bosses, peers, and staff. When I see someone achieving a goal that would be difficult for me, I ask myself how they have done it and try to understand if there is something for me to learn from their success.


Hwee Min Wong, Senior Applications Scientist, Singapore

"In my role, I make drinks healthier (and tastier) using Tate & Lyle ingredients. I love that I am doing something that makes a difference.

"I'm happy that there is no huge gender disparity here in food science, and certainly at Tate & Lyle I have never felt any different because I am female!

To encourage more girls into science-related fields, it's important that they have inspiring examples to look up to. For me, my mother was a great role model – she's smart, resilient and compassionate."