Alison O’Shea and Oksana Semenova, PHD students at the Research Centre for Foetal and Neonatal Translational Research (INFANT) in UCC, with the EEG seizure probe. The centre is an example of the many STEM related courses available at UCC. UCC has partnered with Johnson & Johnson’s to deliver the WiSTEM2D programme, an initiative promoting the involvement of women in science, technology, maths, manufacturing and design courses. Photo: Clare Keogh
University College Cork (UCC) in partnership with Johnson & Johnson has launched the University’s inaugural WiSTEM2D (Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Manufacturing and Design) programme to address the need to support young women to succeed in their STEM2D careers.
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 STEM workforce and STEM 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 Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D programme aims to address the shortage of women in STEM2D careers in Ireland and increase undergraduate women enrolling in these fields. Key elements of the programme include research into barriers to retaining women in STEM disciplines and grants to support students studying STEM disciplines, while ongoing mentorship will be provided to female STEM students by Johnson & Johnson leaders.
The programme launch in UCC follows on from the success of a similar programme in UL, which is now in its third year. Over 50 students have participated in the programme so far and the UL WiSTEM Society has over 180 student members. Johnson & Johnson has entered into 13 such partnerships in universities worldwide to build a diverse WiSTEM2D community.
Speaking at the event, Liz Dooley, Director of Operations at Janssen Supply Chain Ireland, said: “At Johnson & Johnson we are delighted to be partnering with UCC to expand the WiSTEM2D programme to a second Irish University. The success of this programme over the last three years in UL has encouraged us to expand to UCC and deliver a similar programme to reach a wider audience of STEM students.
“Research has highlighted the importance of female role models in encouraging young girls to choose STEM subjects, while mentoring and peer networks are identified as support models for students as they progress through university. Through the WiSTEM2D programme, Johnson & Johnson volunteers will provide that encouragement and support.
“Where there is under-representation of women, there is under-representation of diversity of thought and opinion. We want to build a diverse STEM2D community and the next generation of female role models and we believe the mentorship offered to students who partake in the programme is invaluable. It builds confidence and belonging and gives young women the practical and active example of what they can do, while also ensuring they see the variety of careers on offer to them.”
Speaking at the launch of the programme, Deirdre Clune MEP, said: “The under-representation of women in the STEM workforce needs to be addressed. Eighteen out of the world’s top 20 pharmaceutical companies have operations in Ireland and we need more women choosing to pursue STEM careers in Ireland to continue to provide the very best of talent to these companies.
“The support and partnership between Johnson & Johnson and UCC, which focuses on increasing the number of female STEM graduates, is an excellent example of higher education and business working together to address gender equality.”