The first challenge is getting more girls to consider STEM careers. For years, programs like “Tomorrow’s Innovators Science Saturdays,” a partnership of Bristol Myers Squibb and the 4H youth development organization in New Jersey, has been planting those seeds by bringing young learners together with employees for hands-on science experiments. This effort recently earned Bristol Myers Squibb an Educator of the Year Award from the New Jersey Association of 4H Agents.
Helping teachers discover new ways to bring science to life is another area of focus. The Bristol Myers Squibb Centers for Teaching and Learning at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J., and Montclair State University in Montclair, N.J., work with local school districts and private schools to improve how K-12 educators teach science and math.
After high school the focus turns to mentoring and recruiting. Emily Cunningham was a University of Pennsylvania student two years ago when she accepted an invitation to attend a Bristol Myers Squibb Women in Chemical Engineering outreach event for students pursuing scientific careers. Inspired by the people she met, she stayed in touch with the company and in 2019 joined as an associate research scientist.
“The event introduced me to many excellent role models for young female engineers and I feel very lucky to now be working with them,” said Cunningham.
The next challenge is retention. Female STEM professionals can still face an uphill climb, from a lack of women mentors and leaders, to societal issues such as unequal burden-sharing in the household – all cited as factors that contribute to women in STEM leaving careers at a higher rate than their male counterparts. In response, companies and organizations are doing more and more to help fix this “leaky pipeline” phenomenon through policies and practices aimed at developing, retaining and advancing women.
Through a partnership with Columbia University Graduate School of Business, Bristol Myers Squibb offers LEAD (Lead. Engage. Accelerate. Develop.), a leadership development program for women and multicultural employees who demonstrate strong leadership potential. In addition, B-NOW (Bristol Myers Squibb Network of Women) People and Business Resource group, works to ensure women have equal opportunities to be recruited, developed, advanced and retained globally. B-NOW offers programming specifically for women, such as career advancement workshops, and also engages men to be full partners in gender equity.
More broadly, the company cultivates and supports female employees and executives through targeted development, coaching, mentoring and sponsorship programs. Another company-wide initiative is Possibility Lives, which uses behavior science to help employees form habits that improve work relationships and create a more inclusive culture.