Skip to Main Content Skip to bottom Skip to Chat, Email, Text

University of Phoenix and PepsiCo Join Forces for Million Women Mentors Program to Help Reduce Gender Gap by Encouraging Women to Enter STEM-Related Fields

PHOENIX, Nov. 29, 2017 – University of Phoenix® and PepsiCo today announced cooperation on a mentorship program designed to encourage more women to enter the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and finance workforces to help women bridge the gender gap and fill the growing number of open positions in STEM fields.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts STEM job openings to grow to more than nine million from 2012-2022,1 yet women make up only 29 percent of the STEM workforce, according to the National Science Foundation’s 2016 Science and Engineering Indicators report.2 Research suggests that more gender-diverse companies outperform their competitors. Catalyst discovered correlations that companies with females in leadership positions tend to experience a higher return on investment, sales and equity.3 Despite women’s potential impact in organizations and the growing need, many still are not interested in pursuing STEM careers.4

“Throughout the industry we see a lack of female role models in STEM professions. Without vocal leaders to empower women and a more focused effort to change the perception that STEM careers are for men, the job gap may continue to increase,” said Dennis Bonilla, executive dean, College of Information Systems and Technology and School of Business for University of Phoenix. “This is a critical time for finding solutions to fill job openings with qualified individuals. Women bring a great deal of value and unique insight and experience to leadership roles and organizations. We hope this program can play a part in the solution of increasing the number of women in STEM-related careers.”

Through the cooperation between PepsiCo and University of Phoenix, 48 female students from the University’s College of Information Systems and Technology and School of Business will be paired with PepsiCo IT and finance leaders to receive career advice and resources. The cooperation began last year through a pilot of the mentorship program that included 20 of the University’s top female students who each completed 20 mentorship hours with PepsiCo IT employees. This year, the program will be expanded to also include students in the business program.

“Increasing opportunities and exposure to leadership and mentorship in these industries will help encourage women to explore opportunities where they can bring valuable perspective and insight,” said Maria Velissariou, PepsiCo vice president of Nutrition R&D and lead of Million Women Mentors global expansion. “Developing talent is at the heart of PepsiCo’s values. We are very excited to partner with University of Phoenix and through Million Women Mentors help their students hone STEM and leadership skills for successful careers.”

University of Phoenix has long been dedicated to the advancement of career-relevant higher education for women. The majority of University’s students (66 percent), alumni (63 percent) and faculty (56 percent) are women. One-fourth of students in the College of Information Systems and Technology and more than half (57 percent) of students in the School of Business are female.

To be considered for the PepsiCo Mentorship program, University of Phoenix students must hold a GPA of 3.9 or higher, submit an application with two essays and display a commitment to pursuing academic and career excellence in the fields of STEM and finance. To effectively complete the program, students must complete a minimum of 20 mentorship hours over the course of the 12-month program.

The cooperation is an extension of PepsiCo’s participation in the Million Women Mentors (MWM) program, a global initiative of STEMConnector that launched in 2014 with the goal of providing one million mentoring relationships to girls and women, helping them to choose, persist and succeed in STEM programs and careers.

For more information on the University of Phoenix and PepsiCo mentorship program, email

About University of Phoenix®
University of Phoenix is innovating to help working adults move efficiently from education to careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant and engaging courses, and interactive learning can help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For more information, visit

About PepsiCo®
PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated approximately $63 billion in net revenue in 2016, driven by a complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker and Tropicana. PepsiCo’s product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales.

At the heart of PepsiCo is Performance with Purpose – our fundamental belief that the success of our company is inextricably linked to the sustainability of the world around us. We believe that continuously improving the products we sell, operating responsibly to protect our planet and empowering people around the world is what enables PepsiCo to run a successful global company that creates long-term value for society and our shareholders. For more information, visit

About Million Women Mentors®
Million Women Mentors is the movement that aims to support the engagement of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) mentors (male and female) to increase the interest and confidence of girls and young women to persist and succeed in STEM programs and careers by 2020.

To date Million Women Mentors has 43 U.S. states with pledges and committees; 60 corporations and 60 partners are engaged nationally; and the global pledges are increasing. These important partnerships represent more than 30 million girls and women and the media partners as well. It is about scaling up and insuring that women and girls are encouraged and supported in their STEM careers.