Open for All is one of our core values at the Science Museum Group: our belief that science can be for everyone underpins our mission and drives everything we do. The Group’s mission to inspire futures and increase science capital in society and individuals involves understanding and challenging inequalities so that everyone can feel that science is for them.
Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and therefore, half of its potential. Yet a significant gender gap has persisted at all levels within the STEM space (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).
Women have made incredible progress in increasing participation in higher education, but the gender gap widens as they pursue their careers. Whilst the number of female researchers has increased steadily over the past five years, it still remains at 33%, despite the fact that women represent 55% and 44% of students at the Master’s level of study and PhD programmes respectively.
Women remain in the minority in fields driving the digital revolution such as computing, physics, mathematics, information technology and most dramatically in engineering (only 28% of engineering graduates are women). Institutions at every level need to work together to smash gender stereotypes, reduce gender imbalance and ensure women are not missing in the jobs of the future.
As we look back over the past two years, women have led ground-breaking research into public health, vaccines, treatments and innovative technology, whilst working on the front lines of the global COVID-19 response. It has never been clearer that the world needs science, and science needs women and girls. To mark International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2022, we asked some of our corporate partners to share how they are working to change the narrative, encourage and support the women in STEM at their organisation and fight the gender gap.
At bp our purpose is to reimagine energy for people and our planet, and our ambition is to become a net zero company by 2050 or sooner, and help the world get to net zero. This makes delivering against our diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) ambition more important than ever. We want bp to reflect the diversity of the world around us and be open to receive the best and brightest talent. For a diverse workforce to really thrive, we need inclusion, having a culture where everyone is valued and plays their part in building the success of our business.
A core element in achieving this is our bp employee networks, voluntarily set up by employees for employees. They create an inclusive place to work, and help to foster, develop and retain a diverse employee base. Our women’s international network (bpWIN) in the UK has more than 1000 members providing support, training and development opportunities to women across the business – including mentoring circles for junior colleagues – and advocating for gender equity. bpWIN organise schools events each year around International Women in Engineering Day.
At our Sunbury-on-Thames site, for example, up to 100 girls from local schools are invited to a fun, engaging day where they meet bp female engineers working in a variety of disciplines. The students take part in speed networking with the engineers, ask questions to learn about their roles, how they got there and the different careers available through studying STEM subjects. We aim to help inspire the next generation of women in STEM.
Johnson & Johnson
The Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies (Johnson & Johnson) has been championing women and giving them the tools, resources and opportunities to help them succeed at work since our founding more than 130 years ago, when eight of our first fourteen employees were women.
We believe having a diverse workforce is a catalyst for creating healthier people, healthier communities, and a healthier world. Our WiSTEM2D initiative has been nurturing women in science, technology, engineering, maths, manufacturing and design for over five years.
In the UK, Johnson & Johnson are especially focused on cultivating youth and girls STEM2D interests from an early age and help them continue to grow and develop in these areas, preparing and positioning them to pursue higher education and careers in STEM2D.
These programmes include activities such as sponsorship of the Girlguiding Inventing interest badge, student work experience weeks at our Leeds R&D site, employees signing up to be ambassadors for stem.org.uk, the J&J STEM Scholars Programme for underserved black students, development of both virtual and classroom based activities for stem2d.org, and demonstrating to schools attending the Science Museum 2021 STEM Skill Fair in London.
At MathWorks, we are committed to inspiring women worldwide to join the field of data science and giving a platform to the WiDS ambassadors within our organisation. The WiDS organisation aims to inspire and educate data scientists worldwide regardless of gender, and supports women in the field.
Our AI Academic Liaison Manager Julia Hoerner is one of our incredible ambassadors:
‘My role as WiDS ambassador is more local, which means I motivate and encourage women in my region (in and around Cambridge) to consider becoming a data scientist. Last year, I organised (together with other WiDS ambassadors in Cambridge and London) a career event for young girls. We had inspiring talks from female data scientists and a panel discussion where the attendees could ask questions and get some advice. This year, we organised a virtual workshop where we taught girls and women about data science. The attendees could do some exercises during the workshop and learned how they can get started with a datathon (a datathon is a virtual challenge where you have to solve a task that involves a lot of data and maths).’
Northern Trust is committed to creating a meaningful, measurable difference for the advancement of women in the workplace. This is achieved through initiatives which engage both men and women in a dialogue to support women in fulfilling their true career and leadership potential.
Within our technology group we have established a network for women to be a part of a community for learning, to share best practices, and provide access to internal and external role models that encourages purposeful networking. In 2021 this global network of women welcomed representatives from WeAreTechWomen and Code First Girls to discuss the importance of future-proofing the industry and inspiring the next generation of technologists. The presentation identified programmes that prepare women for their first job in technology and outlined the volunteer-led classes that encourage Northern Trust employees to use their skills to pay it forward.
Alison Pain, chief technology officer, EMEA said, ‘We are committed to showcasing how technology can be an attractive and viable career option for everyone. I know the importance of role models and actively encourage my teams to work with young people to inspire them to follow their dreams.’
At Pfizer our work to close the Gender Pay Gap is central to our diversity and inclusion drive. This is not just an equal pay issue, it’s about making sure that we even up the numbers of men and women in both junior and senior positions.
Our strategy to close the gender pay gap and build diversity is founded on our five point Equity, Diversity and Inclusion strategy: ensure recruitment diversity to build a stronger gender balance of candidates across all levels; create a trusting and flexible workplace culture which encourages employees to achieve work life harmony; evaluate and implement a programme of career progression support enabling colleagues to make positive changes; ensure our colleagues going into and returning from long term absence are exposed to equal opportunities so they feel supported, and create an environment that supports employees at every stage of the family-life cycle.
We’re pleased to report that we have narrowed the gender pay gap for the third year running – within just 2 years we have reduced the gap by over 5% – coming from 15.9% in 2018 down to 10.2% in 2020. Our commitment to addressing the gender pay gap reflects our values: Equity, Joy, Courage and Excellence. Through living these values, we are dedicated to implementing positive change to our business and wider society.
As part of the nuclear industry, Urenco offers careers that can help the world achieve net zero goals and prevent climate change. Inclusion and diversity are vital for our continued success in meeting the world’s demand for sustainable energy, so we actively support women and girls in science through our own initiatives and by supporting others.
Our Richie education programme encourages young girls to consider studying STEM subjects using interactive events and resources. Recently our site in the Netherlands worked with Ontdek (Discover) High Tech Almelo Foundation to deliver Girls Kick Tech. The event saw hundreds of girls take part in a technical workshop and football clinic, combining interactive technology projects with physical challenges out on the pitch.
To support our female colleagues, we have a Women’s Network and we also work with external organisations in the UK to support the progression of our high potential female employees to leadership positions through a number of programmes.
Finally, we also help support women in the wider nuclear industry through sponsoring many other initiatives like the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme, which provides scholarships to young women studying for a Master’s degree in a nuclear-related subject.
For several years, Waters have worked alongside WISE (Women in Science and Engineering). We have developed a number of different initiatives that encourage high school girls to pursue careers in STEM and understand more about the wide variety of roles available. Up until the pandemic, there was an annual “Bring your daughters to work” day to focus on breaking the gender stereotypes and giving young women an insight into the jobs undertaken at Waters.
Whilst we cannot announce anything just yet, we have some exciting new initiatives in the works. The team at our Wilmslow Headquarters are involved in STEM outreach activities with the community, including working closely with the Science Museum Group on education and outreach events, and many of our employees are signed up as STEM ambassadors and go into schools to talk about the importance of STEM careers.
One of our colleagues spoke about her personal career journey at the STEM Women careers event in October last year.