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How Janssen is Inspiring the Next Generation of Women in STEM2D


When we were young girls, contemplating careers in areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Manufacturing and Design (STEM2D) almost 30 years ago, we knew we were pursuing a path almost entirely male dominated.

Unfazed by the gender disparity around us, and blessed to have strong family and teacher support, we stood firm in our mutual quest to ‘follow our dreams’.

Today, as we discuss ways to enhance our culture of inclusion and leverage the diversity of our teams in our own innovation ecosystem, we’re mindful that we’re the minority in our chosen career paths, in IT and Global Supply Chain, respectively.

In fact, the latest global figures reinforce that we still have a long way to go until we reach gender parity in STEM2D, with female representation accounting for only 30 percent of researchers in science, technology and innovation and even less in leadership roles.

But we’re working on it!

Because we recognize that early exposure to the breath of STEM2D at a young age helps spark enchantment towards the field, and at Janssen, we are committed to paving the way for female youths through experiential learning, where they see the magic of STEM2D so passionately brought to life.

The value of increasing female representation in STEM2D careers is clear. From a business perspective, Companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability and 27% more likely to have superior value creation. Inclusive cultures, which is key to unlocking the value of diversity is also supported by research. Organisations with more inclusive cultures are six times more likely to be innovative and agile, three times more likely to be high performing and as a result two times more likely to meet or exceed financial targets.

It is also true that companies that ensure inclusive policies that enable and enhance more diverse teams, specifically treatment of women and minorities, can also enhance future innovative efficiency.

As a key component of our growth strategy, we know that by enabling women’s representation in STEM2D to reflect global demographics we ultimately expand the idea-base and our innovation ecosystem, to improve healthcare and help people everywhere live healthier lives.

One of the most powerful ways we are working to level the playing field is through our WiSTEM2D program: Women in STEM2D.

Led by a network of volunteers across the business, this ambitious initiative aims to increase representation of women in STEM2D fields across all life stages and spans school, academia and women already in the workforce.

Inspiring school-aged girls is our starting point, because gender-based stereotypes remain rife within this group. Alarmingly the majority of teenage girls (66% of 12–19 year old girls in Asia Pacific) revealed recently that they found STEM-related subjects challenging while 35% found science lessons dull and irrelevant towards their future pursuit. Most shockingly, 50% expressed reluctance to pursue a STEM-related job because of its strong male dominance.

With this insight top of mind, our youth programs are based on sparking enchantment with STEM2D subjects in school-aged girls through creative problem solving and play; collaborating with existing organizations to align curriculum in schools, augmenting program-based learning and engaging Johnson & Johnson employees as mentors to students.

For example at the Johnson & Johnson Tokyo Science Centre, our employees volunteer their time hosting science tours for female students, who gain first-hand experience working in a lab setting.

In India we are establishing a collaboration with a non-profit organization whose focus is providing free tuition in Maths and Science to underprivileged girls from 4-17 years old to encourage them to stay in school. Across the region, we also collaborate with Microsoft[i], which is inspiring young girls in the field of technology

Our global collaboration with Junior Achievement (JA)[ii], a non-government organization has allowed us to develop full-day programs for students of different ages including virtual reality workshops on topics such as the importance of mouthwash and how one of the variants may work, to a Touch Surgery experience, a surgical simulation platform that allows the next generation surgeon to practise on a virtual patient.

At a tertiary level, our university programs are designed to inspire career paths, and we collaborate with select academic institutions to develop high-impact strategies for recruiting, retaining, and engaging women leaders.

Lastly, our professional programs tap into the power of diversity through reimagined recruitment and retention of the world’s best technical female talent, including a global scholarship program to support mid-career women wishing to pursue leadership roles in a STEM2D field and must continue their academic journey to do so.

By 2020 it is hoped that the program will have reached one million school aged girls, that 100 percent of academic research collaborations include female participation, that we’ll see an increase in the number of women entering and graduating from 4-year undergraduate programs with STEM2D degrees at our strategic partner schools and as follow on consequence we hope to see an increase to the number of women pursuing careers in STEM2D.

Exposing women to STEM2D and empowering young girls undoubtedly sets us up for future success, allowing us to make more valuable contributions to the communities and patients we serve.

And while it may sound like utopia to some, we are firm believers that with adequate support, mentoring and guidance, generations to come will ultimately see gender balance in STEM2D professions as the new norm.

We’re excited to build the foundations of a gender-neutral STEM2D workforce and proud to be part of a groundswell that will ultimately reap the benefits that balanced and blended gender representation within the sector will undoubtedly bring.