Four women walk through a university campus.
From left: Jessica Dino, UL; Amy O’Reilly, UCC; Anna Rafferty, J&J Campus Ireland; Aoibhín Sheedy, WiSTEM2D Society at NUI Galway. Image: Andrew Downes/ Xposure

Johnson & Johnson extends women in STEM scheme to NUI Galway

5 Oct 2021

Pharma giant Johnson & Johnson is bringing its WiSTEM2D initiative to NUI Galway to encourage more women to pursue STEM careers.

Johnson & Johnson has named NUI Galway as the latest university to benefit from its initiative for women in STEM.

The WiSTEM2D programme focuses on encouraging women and girls into careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, manufacturing and design.

The 2021-2022 programme is open to women STEM students entering their second, third or fourth year of studies at NUI Galway. The programme was first introduced at University of Limerick in 2016 and at University College Cork in 2018.

Since its establishment, the initiative has supported almost 300 students in Ireland through a range of initiatives including leadership training, mentoring, internships, site tours and recruitment workshops.

Anna Rafferty, director of strategy at Johnson & Johnson Campus Ireland and WiSTEM2D university lead, said the company was delighted to be in a position to extend the programme to NUI Galway.

She said that she hoped the programme would “fuel life sciences in the area,” including at the company’s Cerenovus site in Galway.

NUI Galway president Prof Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh added that the university was delighted to “embed the WiSTEM2D programme for women students in the College of Science and Engineering”.

Rafferty has previously talked to about the WiSTEM2D initiative, which aims to increase representation of women in STEM in Ireland and around the world by getting young people interested in these areas and supporting women working in the industry.

Speaking about the extension of the programme to NUI Galway, she said the company was “committed to building a diverse WiSTEM2D science community” and that it would continue to “develop the talent pipeline by nurturing and mentoring” future female STEM leaders.

While there has been an increase in the number of students choosing STEM subjects on their CAO applications, uptake among women remains low. According to a 2019 University College Dublin study, more than 40pc of men listed a STEM course as their first preference, compared to just 19pc of women.

Jessica Dino said her experience with University of Limerick’s WiSTEM2D programme in 2018 was a “pivotal step” in her STEM career.

Dino, who wants to become an astronaut, said that the programme mentors gave her guidance on what careers she could go into that aligned with her goals. “Upon completing my electronic and computer engineering graduate degree, I was given the opportunity to interview for a graduate role and joined the company as an automation engineer at Johnson & Johnson Vision,” she said.

“During my free time, I am working on citizen science projects backed by NASA, participate in analogue astronaut missions and, one day, would love to fulfil my ambition to become an astronaut,” she added.

To learn more about Johnson & Johnson’s WiSTEM2D programme, check out its website. Application forms can be found on the websites of the participating Irish universities.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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