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Johnson & Johnson’s WiSTEM2D Awards Programme goes virtual to support UL Students’ pursuit of STEM careers

Irish Aeronautical Engineer and award-winning STEM advocate, Dr. Norah Patten, presented scholarships to ten University of Limerick (“UL”) students at a virtual awards ceremony as part of the Johnson & Johnson Ireland’s (J&J) Women in STEM2D (WiSTEM2D) Award Programme.

WiSTEM2D refers to Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Manufacturing and Design. The WiSTEM2D programme underlines J&J’s commitment to developing and implementing high-impact strategies to support female students undertaking STEM2D degree courses at UL and in universities around the world. 

Speaking at a virtual awards ceremony held for UL’s successful students, Dr. Norah Patten congratulated the recipients of the J&J scholarship and highlighted the gender imbalance that continues to exist in STEM fields. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the successful applicants to benefit from mentorship and training with industry professionals in J&J. A recent study by the Department of Education’s STEM Education Implementation Advisory Group found that there are significant gender imbalances in STEM subject choices made by male and female students at the post-primary level in Ireland, and that it is critical to encourage greater participation of girls in these subject areas. This programme is an important initiative which serves to support and encourage these female students who, although still in a minority, have made it into the STEMfield, and this is crucial to keep them in the sector going forward.” 

Ten students were selected to receive scholarships at the virtual awards ceremony, following a rigorous application process and one-to-one interviews. This year’s successful students are:

  • Aoife Carney, Digital Media Design, Mayo
  • Róisín Clancy, Biomedical Engineering, Clare
  • Niamh Conroy, Mechanical Engineering, Limerick
  • Kelsi Gallati, Bioscience, Limerick
  • Lauren Hanrahan, Waterford
  • Aisha Sharif Hassan, Aeronautical Engineering, Limerick
  • Safaa Mohamed Ikram, Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Limerick
  • Frances Moran, Bioscience, Mayo
  • Brónagh O’Hanlon, Electronic and Computer Engineering, Wexford
  • Leia Wilmot, Food Science and Health, Limerick

Speaking about the impact of the awards programme, past recipient Jessica Silva said “This programme shaped my career trajectory. With the support of a J&J mentor and the network I was able to build, I quickly found myself feeling empowered, confident and fully believing in my worth. Upon completing my degree in Biomedical Engineering, I was very fortunate to join J&J’s Global Operations Leadership Development program. I have had the opportunity to live in three different countries, experience different sectors and hold four different positions in the last 2.5 years. I will always be grateful for the WiSTEM2D programme and the role it has played in my career.”

The scholarship recipients will benefit from extensive industry mentoring and leadership training as part of J&J’s WiSTEM2D programme. Now in its fifth year at UL, the impact of COVID-19 sees the J&J WiSTEM2D programme move to a virtual format, providing students with virtual site visits and regular online mentoring sessions. 

Speaking about the move to a virtual format, Anna Rafferty, Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D University Lead and Director of Strategy, Johnson & Johnson Ireland, “This year we are working doubly hard to support students as they adapt to remote learning and continue their pursuit of STEM2D careers. Women are still under-represented in the STEM workforce in Ireland. At J&J, we recognise the importance of supporting women early in their careers, so that we can help develop a talent pipeline of future female STEM leaders. Our Johnson & Johnson colleagues are committed to delivering this high intensity programme through virtual mentoring, virtual site visits and ensuring that these promising young women don’t miss out on any opportunities despite the challenges of the pandemic.”

Professor Ita Richardson, Professor Ita Richardson, Principal Investigator in Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Software, University of Limericksaid “We are delighted that J&J are funding the WiSTEM2D programme for a fifth year here in UL.  Their commitment to women in STEM2D has had a positive impact on over 100 UL female graduates to date, as apart from the funding they receive, students benefit greatly from the mentorship and leadership given by strong J&J role models.  Lero and UL look forward to working on this programme with J&J and students from UL.”

Recipients of the J&J scholarship were presented with bespoke framed glass artwork created by Fermoy-based artist, Suzanne O’Sullivan.

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