From Inspiring to Imperative: Celebrating Women in STEM

As we've grown, so have our efforts to recruit, support, and celebrate women in science, healthcare, engineering and beyond.
Jul 22, 2021 3:15 PM ET

From Inspiring to Imperative: Celebrating Women in STEM

Growing up as a young Black girl with a life-threatening illness, Bre Jacobs found herself in a revolving door of doctors’ offices — but none of the healthcare professionals ever looked like her. To understand her condition, reduce the stress on her family, and take control of her own health, Bre dove into medical journals. That activity sparked a passion for scientific knowledge that drives Bre to this day. Now a Medtronic Senior Research Program Manager, Bre still can’t help but wonder: "Where would I be if, earlier on, I had met someone like me in this field? What can I do now to encourage more women in science — to help others break down the hurdles that I faced?”

Our Commitment 

The ability to see yourself represented is a powerful push to succeed in a career. Yet, women and certain ethnic groups are historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) positions.

Each Medtronic employee contributes an inspiring well of life experiences, perspectives, and talents that advance our Mission to alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life for people around the world. We know that the more diverse the team working on developing our life-saving technology is, the better able we’ll be to meet the needs of all patients. That effort includes ensuring that women are equally represented within our heavily science-based organization and leveling the playing field for women in science beyond our walls.

Through Every Phase and Any Stage

Herinaina Rabarimanantsoa, Medtronic Principal R&D Engineer, worked with a small, diverse team of engineers to develop a new device. Rabarimanantsoa quickly saw just how important diversity was in product design. “We designed a medical device that involved a hub that needed to be held and turned. One of my male colleagues thought the design was fine, but I have smaller hands. When I tried to turn the hub, it was incredibly difficult. So, we redesigned it to work for both male and female hands.”

Like so many others, this story reminds us that Medtronic wouldn’t be where it is today without women. As our company evolves, so do our gender-equity efforts. From inclusive product design to developing world-changing innovations, women in science offer invaluable insights and perspective every day.

We believe that what you measure, you meet. We have clear goals for things like pay equity and diverse representation and are transparent about our progress. From women representing 50 percent of our global workforce, 40 percent of management, 100 percent gender pay equity in the United States and 99 percent in other countries to smaller turnover percentages, Medtronic exceeds medical-technology industry averages across the board.

Connected: Medtronic Women's Network

Medtronic Women’s Network (MWN) is our largest Diversity Network, with 19,000+ members and 120+ hubs around the world. MWN offers employees a full suite of professional development, networking, and mentoring programs. Since 2015, the network has seen a 585 percent increase in membership, including the addition of many male allies.

Due in part to virtualization of MWN events in 2020, regional MWN hubs around the world are finding even more opportunities to learn from and support each other. As MWN continues to grow, the passion and rigor of members elevates our approach to the way we attract, develop, retain, and celebrate women in science at Medtronic.

Valued: Careers 2.0

Returning to work after a significant break in your professional career can be difficult — worsened by the fact that hiring managers are 3x less likely to consider a resume with a gap of more than three years. In response, Medtronic developed Careers 2.0 — a six-month, paid returnship program that gives women the space to refresh their technical skills at their own pace while networking with a market leader in healthcare.

Reaching Out

Born out of MWN, our Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) initiative focuses on advancing women in engineering and scientific roles. From building career development toolkits to help women advance to getting involved with local STEM communities, WISE works to foster an inclusive work environment for women in a field that continues to be predominantly male.

Through outreach programs, WISE helps young women overcome career hurdles such as a lack of role models or biased gatekeepers. Events at middle schools and high schools also give rise to new, creative opportunities to show young women of color what a STEM career could look like.

To bring more women into engineering and scientific roles, Medtronic offers competitive college and high-school internships. In 2020, we hired our most diverse group of interns in the company’s history — globally, 61 percent were women. Many participants go on to become full-time employees, where new-hire programs help them grow and connect to opportunities.

Doing More Because We Can

Bre Jacobs commits herself to being the example that could have made a difference in her life earlier, as she worked tirelessly to get her seat at the table and always pulled out a chair for others. Jacobs has been awarded 15 U.S. patents and successfully leads award-winning, cross-functional teams to new discoveries. Beyond her day-to-day work, she participates in groups that include the African Descent Network, Black Engineers at Medtronic (BE@M), and MWN and constantly uses her scientific expertise and empathy to encourage and elevate other women.

Expertise and perspective from women in science roles like Jacobs keep us competitive as a company and improving health for more patients in our global communities. We know that the work toward equity is incomplete and that women continue to face unique challenges. But the more inclusion, diversity, and equity that we can foster as a company — the more we can celebrate women in STEM — the greater our impact becomes.

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