DE­FY­ING EX­PEC­TA­TIONS

VA­RI­ETY, IN­TRIGUE AND THE THRILL OF BE­ING ON THE CUT­TING EDGE ARE JUST SOME OF THE BEN­E­FITS OF A CA­REER IN STEM, SAY FOUR WOMEN WORK­ING AT SCI­ENCE AND TECH­NOL­OGY COM­PANY JOHN­SON MATTHEY

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This year marks 100 years since Bri­tish multi­na­tional com­pany John­son Matthey re­cruited its first R & D sci­en­tist, and today it is still just as committed to sup­port­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of bud­ding sci­en­tists. A leader in its field for more than 200 years, John­son Matthey uses sci­ence to solve com­plex prob­lems for its cus­tomers, and ap­plies un­ri­valled sci­en­tific ex­per­tise to en­able cleaner air, im­proved health and the more ef­fi­cient use of the Earth’s nat­u­ral re­sources.

A key part of sup­port­ing sci­en­tists is ad­dress­ing the long-term lack of women in STEM. Jen Bhan­too, who worked in prod­uct de­vel­op­ment at John­son Matthey for six years be­fore be­com­ing a tech­ni­cal sales ex­ec­u­tive for the com­pany, says: “The pre­con­cep­tion that STEM is very male-dom­i­nated is chang­ing but we still need to dis­pel that myth, es­pe­cially at school level. We should be en­cour­ag­ing girls to take up STEM sub­jects, and that should then trans­late into in­dus­try.” John­son Matthey in­vites schools to visit the com­pany, where stu­dents can speak to staff about their jobs and ex­pe­ri­ences, and is keen to get more women into ca­reers in sci­ence. “John­son Matthey is very sup­port­ive of women in STEM and has a re­ally good rep­re­sen­ta­tion of them,” says Amy Kolpin, a se­nior sci­en­tist at the com­pany. “My ex­pe­ri­ence here has al­ways been very pos­i­tive.”

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing the unique ad­van­tages of a ca­reer in STEM plays an im­por­tant role in mak­ing girls feel con­fi­dent and en­thu­si­as­tic about pur­su­ing sci­ence. All four sci­en­tists stressed that it’s far from just white coats and lab­o­ra­to­ries. “I like that my role isn’t con­stant – it’s al­ways evolv­ing and lead­ing to ex­cit­ing new ar­eas of sci­ence,” says Tugce Er­dan, a prin­ci­pal sci­en­tist work­ing in ad­vanced char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion. “John­son Matthey is very open to new ideas and al­ways en­cour­ages peo­ple to fol­low and catch up with the sci­ence scenes around the world.”

Sheena Hin­docha, who works for John­son Matthey’s new prod­uct in­tro­duc­tion group, be­lieves that work­ing in STEM of­fers things you can’t get in other jobs. “The skills you learn through­out your life as a sci­en­tist or an engi­neer and the way you look at the world are slightly dif­fer­ent to the norm, and that opens up so many op­por­tu­ni­ties to you,” she says. “The only way we’re go­ing to solve some of the chal­lenges the world is fac­ing at the mo­ment, like global warm­ing, is through tech­nol­ogy we haven’t yet dis­cov­ered or created. It’s a re­ally ex­cit­ing time to be start­ing a sci­en­tific ca­reer.”

“WE SHOULD BE EN­COUR­AG­ING GIRLS TO TAKE UP STEM SUB­JECTS, AND THAT SHOULD THEN TRANS­LATE INTO IN­DUS­TRY.”

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