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Superhero Wanted: Wonder Women in Science

Everyone loves a good superhero movie.

The villain, the evil plans of world domination, and the hero that saves the day. You’ve probably seen one recently in your movie marathon with the family! But the thing is, real life is not always like the movies.

The villain does not always look like a bad guy with funny makeup. Neither is the hero wearing tights always ready to defeat evil once and for all. Most of the time, real life villains guise themselves as incurable diseases, catastrophic events, and recently, mental health problems. Our real life heroes, on the other hand, still exist! But they are human, limited, and with some kind of superpowers––science and technology, to be specific.

The Problem

Life is not always like the movies. But when it is, it tells us this huge problem: there is still a lack of women representation in the sciences. 

Statistics tell us that less than 5% of girls are expected to pursue a career in engineering or computing, compared to 18% of boys. Ang layo nun! And when that small percentage of young girls enter college, only 45% of them pursue a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) field. Obviously, this means fewer women make it as STEM professionals. Specifically, only 3 out of 10 women. And tbh, we can do better than that. 

If you skipped reading the previous paragraph with all those statistics (it’s okay!), here’s the bottomline: we need more women in STEM.

Kung meron ka mang statistics na dapat tandaan, it’s that women are proven to be innovators. Studies even show that women-abundant companies outperform their competitors in every measure of profitability. Kung ganun, anong ginagawa natin?

The Superhero Team

Saving the world is not a one-man job. Just like how movies have their barkada with clever tricks or an all-star team like the Avengers with cool superhero suits and weapons, solving the gender gap problem in STEM is a team effort.

It’s not just someone’s fight. It’s everybody’s fight. And we need people, a whole bunch of people who will say yes to the challenge and create more opportunities for women to thrive in the field. That’s what the team at Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has been working on for more than 130 years now.

Started by eight brilliant women, J&J has been empowering women to take charge at home and at work by giving the right tools, resources, and opportunities–pretty much what you need for an exciting STEM career. The company is committed to champion diversity that, even in their boardrooms, women take up more than a third of the executive space. #goals

“We must champion women. Celebrate women. Partner with women. And give women the freedom and inspiration to pursue their passions. Because anything can be solved when committed people put their resources and resolve together.”

– Johnson & Johnson

If we want to defeat ‘real life villains’ and create healthier people, healthier communities, and eventually, a healthier world for everyone, investing in women is the way to go. (This is the part where you remember the statistics above.)

As natural born leaders, women are capable of wonders. Given the right training and resources, can you imagine what women in STEM can do? That’s what the WiSTEM2D Program wants to find out.

The Master Plan

WiSTEM2D stands for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Manufacturing and Design). It’s an initiative launched by J&J in 2015 to support and inspire young girls to pursue education and career in STEM. Because while the statistics show otherwise, every girl has the power to save her part of the world. 

Through the program, young girls are empowered to carve their own path in STEM from school to the workplace–equipped with the right information, tools, and mentorship opportunities. The question now is, where do you fit in the plan?

Your Role

Wala ka mang super strength, invincibility powers, or ability to fly like your favorite superheroes, meron ka pa ding power to change the world with a career in STEM. Even female movie superheroes slayed with their STEM2D careers.

Harley Quinn from Batman is a psychiatrist. Alex Danvers, a.k.a Supergirl’s sister, is a scientist. Doctor Jane Foster from Thor is an astrophysicist. And both Black Panther’s Shuri and Arrow’s Felicity Smoak are tech geniuses. 

Kung gusto mo ng real life role models, meron din!

Katharine Johnson did the math for NASA’s space explorations in the 1950s. Roberta Bondar actually flew to space as the world’s first astronaut-neurologist. Dr. Rebecca Cole saved lives with her work in public health. Radia Perlman developed the algorithm that made the Internet possible today. And more brilliant women who changed the world.

If they made it, you can be a WiSTEM2D hero, too! The next time you feel like you can’t, remember these names. These wonder women paved the way for you to take a step.

“Okay, where do I start?”

Saving the world may not be as dramatic as those in movies, but you can bet it’s always more fulfilling in real life. As a student, your superhero training starts in school––armed with your favorite pen, notebook, and interest in the sciences. Yun lang, ready ka na!

The amazing thing about the sciences is that it’s all around us. Everyday things that we take for granted, like basic skincare, have interesting science behind them. For example, did you know that you need to choose the right facial cleanser for your skin type?

Source: Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc.

Even the use of sunscreen is based on a lot of science. Hindi natin friend ang harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun, that’s why we need to use broad-spectrum sunscreen (meaning it can protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays) daily. At para sure, dapat SPF 30 or higher–SPF meaning “sun protection factor” which determines how long you’re protected from UV rays.

Source: Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc.

Actually, even your seemingly irrational PMS days can be explained by science. Understanding menstruation scientifically as the body’s natural way of cleaning off unwanted tissues and regulating body processes for fertility enables you to keep moving! Dahil alam mo na research actually recommends exercise as a way of getting rid of period cramps, then hindi ka magpapatigil sa period mo. Even your choice of sanitary pads should be based on science and experiments.

Brand X absorbs liquid in 19 seconds, Modess in just 4 seconds

Brand X still shows wetness after 10 seconds, Modess is dry

Your STEM2D journey starts with asking questions about things that matter to you. What problem do you want to solve? How do you want to make a difference in the world? And from there, your education and career steps should naturally unfold. If anything, huwag kang mag-alala. There’s a whole community of wonder women in STEM behind you.

Learn more about the Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) WiSTEM2D Program. If you want to explore student orgs, courses and career paths in STEM, click here to get started!