Together, we can make our companies – and more importantly, society – better by giving young people opportunities to succeed in STEM. We have to tap into everyone’s brainpower to create the most innovative, life-changing technologies.
of the STEM workforce is female
Women make up just a quarter of the STEM workforce in the U.S. and studies and surveys have found that girls are less likely to be encouraged to study science, technology, engineering, and math. Those same studies show that young boys are more likely to think that math and science are cool, and that they have confidence in their abilities for those subjects.
Of those women who do pursue STEM degrees, only 6 in 10 take related internships or jobs out of college, and of those who do take STEM jobs, more than half leave within a decade. At the same time, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics project an increase in demand for STEM jobs of 1 million by 2026, a nearly 11% increase from 2016.
Abbott, a global health technology company, recognizes that the best way to discover life-changing breakthroughs is to have more diversity in its labs and work spaces. To achieve that diversity and introduce more girls into the STEM pipeline, Abbott partners with public high schools on an internship program aimed at offering young people, particularly girls, experience in the STEM fields.
Of young people participating in the program, 97% who have completed the program have gone on to study STEM in college and Abbott has now started hiring former interns as full-time engineers. The internship program acts as a conduit for untapped STEM talent. Encouraged by the success of the program, Abbott has published “Shaping the Future of STEM“, a blueprint other companies can use to recreate this internship program model for their STEM industry.
93% of women
in STEM who have a female boss say they plan to remain in STEM
97% of interns
completing the Abbott program went on to pursue a STEM degree or job
69% of women
in STEM who had mentors early in their career say they plan to stay in STEM
How does it work?
The internship demystifies what it means to work in STEM by giving students the opportunity to contribute to life-changing technologies alongside engineers and scientists who look like them. Started in 2012 by Corlis Murray, the top engineer at Abbott who happens to be a woman, this high school internship selects students from diverse schools near the cities where Abbott has job opportunities to offer.
Abbott’s partnerships with public high schools are a critical part of their success. Partnerships are established based on the schools’ proximity to Abbott locations, if the schools have a strong STEM focus, if the schools have a diverse student body and if school leaders have the time and interest to work closely with Abbott. An ongoing and open communication channel with each high school’s dedicated contact, working through the student recruitment and interview process is another critical element to maintaining a strong program.
Chosen interns have demonstrated academic excellence, strong leadership, communication skills, and technical excellence in their respective fields. Interns have the opportunity to work in functions that include engineering, science, finance, information technology, and marketing on flexible 10-12 week assignments during the summer. More than two-thirds of students are women and more than half are from other underrepresented groups.