Around the world, our Research & Development team comprises 59% women, including 51% of our managerial roles. But this puts Unilever very much in the minority.
In STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and maths – women are significantly under-represented. According to data from the World Economic Forum (WEF), just 30% of the world’s researchers are women, and less than a third of female students choose to study maths or engineering in higher education.
“I am very proud of our R&D team and the many examples of our incredible women in science. Although today is International Day of Women and Girls in Science, ensuring more women choose careers in STEM is not something that should be talked about on one day alone,” says Unilever’s Chief R&D Officer Richard Slater.
“My ask is for all of us who work in STEM, especially those of us in leadership roles, to consider how we can interest more girls and young women in STEM early on and how we can improve the level of engagement and support throughout their education, internships and careers. It is essential to have diversity in management and leadership positions within STEM, not just as a source of stronger creativity and innovation, but also to ensure there are role models to inspire those setting out on their careers as the next generation of leaders,” he adds.
More role models, fewer stereotypes
Entrenched gender stereotypes and gender bias are often part of the problem. It’s said that we can’t be what we can’t see. And with recent research finding that just 12% of movie characters with STEM jobs are played by women, it’s clear that it’s time to put more role models in the spotlight.
That’s exactly what we’re doing here, to mark the UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
Meet Babita, who grew up in remote, rural India and defied stereotypes and sexism to forge a successful international career.
Meet Sueli, whose childhood fantasy was to work in the fragrant Unilever soap factory near her home. Years later she brings new product innovations to market with her impressive experience in chemistry.
Meet Erica, who is passionate about ensuring women have access to accurate information when making their skincare choices – not empty promises but scientifically proven facts.