For Janet O’Leary ’84, who always loved math and science, engineering and WPI were a natural fit. One of six children in a family with limited financial resources, O’Leary needed significant financial aid to supplement her and her parents’ contributions to her education.“That’s why scholarships are so important to me—they literally allowed me to attend WPI and put me on the track that I’m on now.”
After graduation, O’Leary joined P&G in Cincinnati, Ohio, as an R&D engineer. “I loved the work, as it was technically challenging, but most importantly I was able to see it come to life on the store shelves.”
When she and husband Ron Bartos, a civil engineer, moved back to Boston, O’Leary took an R&D position with Gillette—which later became P&G. She dedicated 33 years in R&D with P&G, retiring as an Associate Director, Gillette Shaving Products in 2017.
O’Leary also supports the WPI Women’s Impact Network (WIN), which raises funds and distributes grants to WPI students, faculty, staff, and alumni who are pursuing initiatives that advance women in STEM. As a member of the Impact Committee, which reviews grant applications and awards funds, she has reviewed 40 proposals for funding during her tenure. Janet recently became a member of the WIN Executive Committee.
Her dedication to women in STEM comes from her own experience. There were very few women in technical fields and very few systems to help women navigate and develop their careers while simultaneously managing life and family changes. With other colleagues, she launched the Boston Women’s Network, a group that started for women in R&D, and has expanded to 400 women across all functions and levels. This group has enabled significant progress across all organizational metrics of female recruiting, retention, promotion, and representation at P&G, and it is still active today.
“I believe there is no way I would be where I am today, both personally and professionally, without the education and the financial help I got from WPI,” says O’Leary. “Someone, likely over 40 years ago, established a scholarship fund from which I benefited…That is why making a planned gift to WPI, as well as supporting and being an active part of the Women’s Impact Network, is so important.”
Janet O’Leary ’84 and husband Ron Bartos