August 26, 2010

Alcoa Executive Serves as Mentor in Young Leaders Program for College STEM Students

Program Addresses the Critical Need for Reducing the Gender Gap in STEM Careers


HOUSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Mary Zappone, President of Alcoa Oil and Gas, was one of the leading female executives from FORTUNE 500 companies who served as mentors this year to a promising group of young college women participating in the intensive, National Math and Science “Young Leaders Program.” The program is designed to provide role models for students majoring in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math), and is a collaboration among FORTUNE magazine, the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) and Exxon Mobil Corporation. The goal of the program is to encourage the college women to continue their studies and pursue careers in STEM fields, helping address the gender gap issue in these critical fields.
Twenty-two senior executives and students participated in the 2010 leadership program. Zappone was matched with Georgia Lagoudas, a Bioengineering major at Rice University. Throughout the year, Zappone and the other mentors provided ongoing leadership coaching to their students through regular calls, webinars and company site visits to demonstrate the tangible application of math and science in their professions.
The program addresses the critical need for more young women to specialize in math and science: Women currently constitute 46 percent of the U.S. workforce but hold just 26 percent of U.S. jobs in science, technology and engineering, and fewer than 10 percent of American engineers are women.
In the last three years, Alcoa Foundation has invested $21.5M to support education and workforce readiness across the communities where Alcoa (NYSE:AA) operates, with a particular focus on STEM education and mentoring for young girls.
“There are tremendous opportunities for women to take on leadership roles in technological and engineering fields,” said Zappone. “Helping young women become excited about math and science and the numerous ways they can use that education is important to ensure the next generation of leaders includes diverse viewpoints.”
The semester-long Young Leaders Program culminated in a capstone event in New York City in June, where 16 of the 22 students in the program experienced two days of meetings with leaders in science, technology and engineering. Speakers for the symposium included Louise Rosen, director of the Office of Academic and Research Programs at Columbia University; Dr. Beth Lange, chief scientific officer, Mary Kay, Inc; Dr. Samara Rubinstein, manager of the Sackler Lab for Genetics and Genomics at the American Museum of Natural History; and Margaret Mattix, vice president of Global Marketing for ExxonMobil Chemical Company.
Zappone was part of an elite group of executive participants for the 2010 leadership program, which also included representatives from eBay, Emerson, DuPont, Marvell, ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical, AXA Equitable, ACS Healthcare, Archer Daniels Midland, Intel, Black Rock Advisors, Accel, Time Inc., Electronic Arts, Prescription Solutions, WalMart Information Systems, and Affiliated Computer Services.
The students, who were selected by academic officials at their universities, represented a broad spectrum of higher education institutions, including the University of California-Davis, Washington University, University of Pennsylvania, UC-Berkeley, University of Houston, University of Michigan, Columbia University, University of Cincinnati, Stanford University, University of Illinois, University of Oregon, Ohio State University, Rice University, Carnegie Mellon University, Xavier University, University of Chicago, Iowa State University, CalTech University, and the University of Arkansas.
For more information about NMSI and the Young Leaders Program, email or visit
About Alcoa
Alcoa is the world’s leading producer of primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum and alumina. In addition to inventing the modern-day aluminum industry, Alcoa innovation has been behind major milestones in the aerospace, automotive, packaging, building and construction, commercial transportation, consumer electronics and industrial markets over the past 120 years. Among the solutions Alcoa markets are flat-rolled products, hard alloy extrusions, and forgings, as well as Alcoa® wheels, fastening systems, precision and investment castings, and building systems in addition to its expertise in other light metals such as titanium and nickel-based super alloys. Sustainability is an integral part of Alcoa’s operating practices and the product design and engineering it provides to customers. Alcoa has been a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for eight consecutive years and approximately 75 percent of all of the aluminum ever produced since 1888 is still in active use today. Alcoa employs approximately 59,000 people in 31 countries across the world. More information can be found at