Ten female students were presented with bursaries by global healthcare company Johnson and Johnson (J&J) as part of its WiSTEM2D Award Programme at a ceremony in University of Limerick (UL) on Monday, November 12th .
The acronym WiSTEM2D refers to Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Manufacturing and Design, and is part of 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. This is the healthcare company’s third year partnering with the University. UL is one of 13 universities worldwide to participate in the programme, with University College Cork joining earlier this year.
The ten winning students are:
1. Aisling Greaney, Biomedical Engineering, from Limerick City.
2. Alannah Aherne, Bioscience, from Ennis, Clare.
3. Cliodhna O’Shea, Financial Maths, from Corbally, Limerick.
4. Ellen Liu, Aeronautical Engineering, from Pilltown, Kilkenny.
5. Fiona Neylon, Industrial Biochemistry, from Ennis, Clare.
6. Iva Gregovic, Design and Manufacturing Engineering, from Raheen, Limerick.
7. Jiale Ryan, Financial Maths, from Corbally, Limerick.
8. Maya Brennan, Product Design & Technology, from Castletroy, Limerick.
9. Niamh Munday, Product Design & Technology, from Enniskeane, Cork.
10. Siobhán Regan, Chemical & Biochemical Engineering, from Moycullen, Galway.
The three runner-up students are:
1. Jane Quigley, Technology Management, from Rhebogue, Limerick.
2. Emer O’Brien, Mechanical Engineering, from Clarinbridge, Galway.
3. Ruth Butler, Mechanical Engineering, from Monaleen, Limerick.
The students were selected for the programme following a rigorous application process and one-to-one interviews. They will shortly be assigned a J&J female role model who will support and mentor them as well as affording them the opportunity to visit Johnson and Johnson sites across the country and develop their STEM networks in the industry.
As the programme enters into its third year at the University of Limerick, it is evident that there is still a vital need to support young women pursuing STEM2D careers. Recent research conducted amongst UL students revealed that 29% of STEM undergraduates do not know what jobs to apply for, and further, of the 56% of students that have never visited an industry facility, 66% were female.
The WiSTEM2D programme is unique in terms of offering young women studying STEM2D courses the opportunity to engage with women working in those careers. First-hand experience of site tours, mentoring, project and career workshops enable students to visualise exactly what it is like to have a career in STEM.
Anna Rafferty, Head of External Affairs at Janssen the pharmaceutical company of J&J, said, “At J&J, we recognise that women are greatly under-represented in the STEM workforce here in Ireland. The mentoring element of the programme is designed to combat potential isolation among female students and to provide support for them as they continue their third level studies. As we look to building the workforce of the future, we are committed to supporting women in STEM, allowing us to develop the talent pipeline by nurturing and mentoring our future female STEM leaders.”
Professor Merrilyn Goos, Ireland’s only professor of STEM education and the Director of EPI*STEM at the National Centre of STEM Education said, “A key aim of the WiSTEM2D programme is to inspire young women to bring diversity of ideas and opinions to typically male-dominated STEM careers. We recognise that STEM is traditionally a masculine environment, therefore collaborations between industry and third level institutions are critically important in order to drive change, expanding the reach and quality of STEM education in Ireland. We look forward to a continued partnership with J&J to help mentor, support and encourage young women in STEM education.”
Speaking on behalf of WiSTEM2D students, Ciara Olsthoorn said, “Being part of this programme has been an incredible experience for me and all of the students. One of the most positive aspects of the collaboration has been the opportunity to develop connections within our peer network. This resulted in the students setting up the WiSTEM2D Society to support women in STEM, where we can share our experiences and support each other which is incredibly positive and rewarding.”
Professor Ita Richardson, presented the students with their bursaries at the ceremony. Also in attendance were the award winners’ family members, J&J mentors and UL academic STEM staff including Dr Teresa Curtin, faculty of Science and Engineering and MC Tracey O’Connell of EPI*STEM.