This International Day of Women and Girls in Science (Feb. 11), we are inspired by trailblazing females in the science and technology fields. Representing our strategic partner, Procter & Gamble (P&G), Claudine “Claude” Zukowski is one such woman. Now the senior manager of P&G’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program, Claude was captivated by the field of microbiology at a young age. In her career at P&G, she has seen the fruition of this research impact communities across the world. Claude shared her fascination with microbiology, making a global impact on clean water access through the P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program, and representing women in science! What sparked your interest in science? Growing up, I always had an interest in general health and well-being. I discovered the field of microbiology, and it was utterly fascinating to me. Learning more about microbiology, disease transmission, and epidemiology started a lifelong passion of learning in this field. Multiple facets in my job still go back to what I learned studying this science. How is your role making a global impact? One thing that is so fascinating about microbiology is that it touches so many facets of your everyday life. The technology that is at the heart of the P&G Children's Safe Drinking Water Program, called the P&G Purifier of Water, has both a chemistry and disinfection facet. Both steps work to reduce the organisms that will make people sick when they drink dirty water. I am fortunate that in my role, I get to see microbiology technology every day and how it is applied in the real world. A lot of the programs I have worked on at P&G were focused on developing products that were antibacterial or antiviral, such as hand soaps and a cold prevention nasal spray. I have been fortunate to be able to work on cool programs and projects that allowed me to use this science background to benefit people’s health and well-being and also be a force for good in society. How does your role impact the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals around addressing the global challenges we face, such as poverty and environmental degradation, by 2030? In my capacity managing the P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program, we are committed to helping achieve SDG #6 - universal access to clean water and sanitation for all. Since 2004, along with our partners, we’ve provided more than 16 billion liters of clean water through the CSDW Program. I’m speaking as the collective “we,” because we are just one among many organizations working toward this goal, and although we are making progress there are still many people who lack access to clean water. We continue to align with partners like Water Mission who are dedicated to bringing clean water to as many people as they can. What would you say to other girls and women who want to pursue a career in science? I would encourage any girl or woman to take a chance and learn more about science. When we have equal representation of both genders, we can make progress faster and bring new viewpoints to projects and challenges.
We need to find a way to inspire women and girls to look at the STEM fields. We know there is a gap, and there are not as many girls graduating in the computer science or technology fields. It is a matter of providing more exposure to programs in this area. In the future, these career fields are where there are going to be many job opportunities. We love working with partners like Water Mission and share the wonderful work they are doing to bring clean water to communities around the world. Lack of access to clean water is not a single person or organization challenge; it is everybody working collectively together to achieve these goals. It is with the skills learned in the STEM fields that can help bring solutions to these global issues, and I hope I can encourage more girls to seek out careers in science and technology fields so they can make a meaningful difference. — Water Mission has utilized P&G’s water purification packets in communities in Indonesia, as part of our response to a devastating natural disaster in 2018. With a shared understanding of the necessity for collaboration, Water Mission and P&G work together to provide clean water to vulnerable populations. We both recognize and applaud our #WomeninScience who help develop and implement clean water solutions, and seek to encourage the next generation of innovative, science-minded girls!