The Johnson & Johnson (J&J) family of companies has been at the forefront in advocating and promoting the need to support women in pursuing careers in the STEM2D area. As part of J&J’s commitment to building a diverse scientific community, the company developed its WISTEM2D strategy – Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Manufacturing and Design. J&J’s strategy on promoting more female representation in STEM2D careers is based on three distinct pillars; Youth, University and Professional.
The Youth pillar aims to ‘Spark Enchantment’ and inspire the next female generation to imagine what’s possible for them in STEM2D areas. This is achieved by helping girls aged under-18 to use technology to have fun but to also find creative ways of problem solving. On a practical level this has involved J&J employees in Ireland visiting schools to conduct interactive workshops with students to explore the world of science and technology and inform them of the opportunities available for those that choose to study in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, manufacturing and design. J&J has set an ambitious target of reaching 1 million girls by 2020 through this programme globally to redress the balance of under representation of women in STEM2D careers.
The second pillar of the strategy is the WiSTEM2D programme which has been rolled out in two Irish universities, with 13 universities worldwide partnering with J&J on this. In Ireland, almost 60% of 30 to 34-year-old women have a third level degree, yet women are continuously and disproportionately missing in the STEM2D workforce and the STEM2D disciplines in higher education. According to Science Foundation Ireland, out of almost 118,000 people working in STEM-related fields, just a quarter are women. The WiSTEM2D programme aims to address the shortage of women in STEM2D careers and increase the number of undergraduate women enrolling in these fields. Key elements of the programme include research into barriers to retaining women in STEM2D disciplines and grants to support students studying STEM2D disciplines. Additionally, ongoing mentorship is provided to female STEM2D students by J&J leaders. Having such female mentors is extremely important for young women as it builds confidence and belonging and gives young women practical examples of what they can achieve within STEM2D.
The third pillar of the strategy is professional and is aimed at current and former women in the workforce. The Re-ignite programme is a return to work programme for professionals that have taken a career break. Often, women that have families opt to take time out of their careers to care for their children and can find it hard to re-integrate into the workforce or even find employment when they seek to go back to work. The Re-ignite programme offers four-month assignments with the opportunity to apply for full-time roles at the end of the assignment.
By focussing their strategy on these three key pillars, J&J aims to influence women and girls of all ages to reset their thinking and consider careers in STEM2D areas. While redressing the imbalance of females working in STEM2D careers will take time, J&J is committed to making a longer-term change and building a diverse STEM2D community and, with that, the next generation of female role models.