By Jessica Aleshire, Global Community Engagement
Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) education has dominated conversations around education policy, curriculum and workforce development for decades -and rightly so. In the same time period, STEM careers have steadily increased and are expected to reach nearly 9 million by 2022. Yet the development of qualified STEM professionals continues to fall short of meeting the growing demand, and disparities in access to STEM development persist.
According to the National Science Foundation 2018 report on Science & Engineering Indicators, less than 15% of engineering jobs and 24% of computer science jobs in the US are held by women – despite making up half of the college educated workforce. These disparities are even greater for people of color, with Hispanic, Black and Native American employees representing only 11% of all science & engineering occupations. Gaps in gender and cultural diversity in STEM fields goes beyond the US. According to UNESCO Institute on Statistics, less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women.
As a global medical device company driven by advancing science and innovation, we recognize our responsibility to increase access to STEM education so that all people – regardless of gender, race or background – have equal exposure to STEM career pathways. Our STEM programming is intended to help grow a future pipeline of diverse talent that ensures we’re tapping into the best and brightest minds.
Ten years ago, we formed our first STEM Council to formalize our efforts. Since then Boston Scientific STEM Councils have expanded to 13 sites across the globe. Employee engagement in STEM initiatives has sky rocketed. Last year, our teams contributed over 10,500 STEM volunteer hours and hosted over 200 STEM events.
Our volunteers bring STEM experiences to students in the communities where we operate, collaborating with educators to understand their students’ needs and shape a customized approach. From mentoring and sharing first-hand experiences to providing hands-on experiments and opening the doors to our facilities, our efforts cover STEM development from cradle to career and focus on introducing students from underrepresented populations to the possibilities of STEM learning.
It is because of these efforts that we celebrate STEMtember – a month-long recognition of all the activities happening around the globe, throughout the year, to advance access to STEM education.
Efforts like the internship program in India where seven interns are receiving the financial support needed to complete a three-year internship in our R&D department. In Clonmel, our team launched a formal school visits program that welcomes students to campus and introduces young minds to our products and potential careers in STEM.
STEMtember is also a time to recognize our employees who have defied the status quo and exemplify why diversity and equality in STEM is vital to our company culture and performance - employees like Kim, a manufacturing engineer. As a young girl, Kim loved being hands-on and was interested in science. She knew she wanted to invent and experiment – leading her to a career as an engineer at Boston Scientific, where she constantly pushes to find new solutions and make existing products even better.
STEMtember is a celebration of everything we do to advance STEM education in the communities we serve, and more importantly, a recognition of the need to do more to develop the diverse future talent that will enable us to create health solutions for generations to come.