Home » Insights » Expert insight: why gender diversity is important in STEM

Expert insight: why gender diversity is important in STEM


Dr Roz Bekker

Business Unit Director, Sponsor for Diversity and Inclusion, Janssen UK


Dr Michael Barker

Worldwide Vice President, Research and Development, DePuy Synthes

Experts from the healthcare industry discuss how establishing a diverse workforce is crucial to creativity.

Workplace diversity offers holistic gains

Research around the impact of diversity in the workplace continuously shows numerous benefits to businesses, with possible results including increased employee loyalty, workplace satisfaction and boosted creativity.

“There are many reasons to pioneer gender balance in the workplace,” says Dr Michael Barker, Worldwide Vice President of Research and Development at DePuy Synthes, part of Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies. “Having a team of diverse thinkers, within an inclusive culture, helps to drive creativity and innovation, leading to solutions that ultimately benefit patients on a global scale.”

Innovation, creativity and a greater understanding of your consumers can all be fostered through a diverse workforce, agrees Dr Roz Bekker, Sponsor for Diversity and Inclusion at Janssen UK – a pharmaceutical company of Johnson & Johnson. “If you really want to understand your marketplace and deliver products, solutions and services to the broader population, your business needs to be representative of that population.” Despite this, though, women are still disproportionately under-represented in STEM occupations.

Increasing female representation in STEM

The need to address the gender balance within STEM occupations is clear. Women make up just 24% of all people employed in STEM industries. A key area for concern is the huge drop-off in the number of girls studying core STEM subjects at the age of 16.

“In 2017, just 35% of girls chose maths, physics, computing or a technical vocational qualification, compared to 94% of boys.”

Dr Bekker says she was ‘fortunate’ to be inspired into STEM by the example set by her mother, through her healthcare journals and medical evacuation work in South Africa. Yet for many young girls there is a real absence of female role models in STEM.

Dr Bekker contributes to a series of Johnson & Johnson programmes which have been launched to address this, including the Women’s Leadership and Inclusion programme, aimed at developing and enhancing women’s careers within the business. Globally, Johnson & Johnson has an ambitious target to inspire 1,000,000 girls between the ages of 5 – 18 to pursue careers in STEM fields by 2020.

“We recognise that, in order to get a better gender balance in an area, you need to inspire children from a very young age. You need to profile role models so children – or young women – who are thinking about a career in STEM, will think, ‘Look at what these women have done… I can do this, too’,” says Dr Bekker.

Encourage diversity through multiple talent pipelines

Maintaining gender balance throughout talent pipelines, at all levels, is another key concern. Dr Barker believes diversifying the range of routes into the organisation is crucial for creating a diverse workforce.

“We have a number of strategic academic partnerships worldwide with universities, alongside apprenticeship schemes, work placements, PhDs and scholarship programmes. This expands the talent pool exposed to the organisation and increases opportunities to drive gender balance in the recruitment process,” he says.

Addressing the gender balance in recruitment opens the door for a wider system and culture of inclusivity and support. “We set up networking events to give the opportunity for women to improve self-confidence in business and networking skills alongside unconscious bias training,” says Dr Bekker.

Aspiring to and maintaing a diverse workforce should be a simple business decision and one that all businesses should employ. “We are very focused on achieving that 50:50 equilibrium,” says Dr Barker. “We are all about innovation that meets the unmet needs of patients, and research shows that diversity can further foster that.”

Click here to find out more about working for Johnson & Johnson, the career opportunities on offer and for hints and tips on making your next career move.

Research source: here

Next article