Did you know that India boasts the world’s highest number of female STEM graduates at a commendable 43%? However, the stark reality is that only an estimated 14% of them are part of the STEM workforce. These numbers underscore a significant drop out after education & work place gender gap that urgently needs addressing. Deep-rooted gender stereotypes link STEM fields to men, steering women toward traditional household tasks. Early exposure to these stereotypes dissuades young girls from exploring STEM, resulting in a scarcity of female representation. The absence of prominent female role models and mentors compounds the issue, dissuading even those who initially venture into STEM careers. The dearth of female role models often leads women to drop out, perpetuating the gender gap in STEM.
For decades, Procter & Gamble’s legacy skincare brand Olay, a brainchild of chemist Graham Wulff, has maintained a deep understanding of women’s changing needs through science since its inception. Olay is not only deeply rooted in research and development but strongly believes in gender equality. With a 50/50 female-to-male management split in the region, it also helps eliminate gender bias inside and outside of the workplace. Led by a female R&D leader – Chandrika Kasturi, Olay’s R&D team is 250+ strong and comprises of more than 50% female scientists.
In March 2023, Olay India commissioned a survey and the findings attested to the fact that due to a lack of female role models, young girls are found to not pursue a career in STEM. 81% of the respondents dropped out due to the lack of female role models who can pave the way for success. Whereas 88% said having female role models who are excelling in the workplace would influence them to go back to a career in STEM. Overall, 91% of respondents said having a female role model is crucial to staying in a STEM career.
In 2021, Olay launched #STEMtheGap in India, aiming to address the STEM gender gap. The campaign garnered 10 million views and an 80 million reach, a record for Olay India. Beyond awareness, Olay invested INR 30,03,026 in scholarships and learning tools for 250+ underprivileged girls in partnership with LEAD School. Within a year, there’s been a notable rise in STEM scores across all scholars.
This year, the new instalment of Olay’s #STEMTheGap initiative aims to shed light on the glaring absence of female mentors and role models. Ahead of this year’s International Day of the Girl Child, Olay will begin the next leg of its 10-year program. As a brand rooted in scientific innovation and a deep connection with women, Olay India is taking meaningful steps to provide young girls with mentorship and role models through the following three initiatives:
A Powerful Film: The brand has unveiled a hard-hitting digital film in collaboration with acclaimed filmmaker Anand Gandhi. The film delves into India’s rich history of remarkable women in STEM and pays homage to the enduring legacies of luminaries like Dr. Anandibai Joshi, Kamala Sohonie, Dr. Janaki Ammal, Kalpana Chawla, among others, showcasing their inspiring journeys. It highlights the urgent need for more female role models in STEM today. The film also sheds light on the societal biases that deter young girls from pursuing STEM careers, emphasizing the crucial role of female mentors.
The AI-SHU Virtual Mentor: The brand has also launched the beta version of a web-based virtual chat mentor that will offer guidance and information to aspiring young girls seeking to enter the world of STEM—and a wonderful supplement to Olay’s mentorship program. This virtual chat mentor has been created with the help of successful women in different STEM fields in India such as Shannon Olsson (Founder & Global Director of the echo network), Swarna Manjari (Communication Designer), Dr. Vandana Prasad (Community Pediatrician and Public Health Professional), Tarunima Prabhakar (Tech and Policy Research at Tattle Civic Tech and Carnegie India), to name a few, to provide the user with knowledge, resources, and encouragement on their journeys.
Mentorship with vLookUp: In collaboration with vLookUp, Olay has joined forces to offer a platform connecting female students in higher education with STEM mentors online. Over 300 sign-ups have been recorded in the past year, with carefully chosen participants engaging in four-month mentorship programs facilitated by volunteers from P&G and partner companies. This program completes the mentorship journey from virtual mentorship to meaningful connections with experts in the field.
STEM Scholarships: To encourage future women in STEM, Olay continues to partner with LEAD, India’s premier School EdTech provider, to sponsor STEM scholarships to 250+ underprivileged girls. These scholarships empower girls across India by providing financial support for STEM education and career development.
Despite the growing availability of STEM jobs in India, it remains essential to motivate and support Indian girls in pursuing STEM education for their active involvement in future employment opportunities. Olay is committed to fostering change and providing equal opportunities for girls in India. Since 2021, the brand has been sponsoring tuition fees, tablets, and data packs for girls across six states. The revamp of Olay’s #STEMTheGap initiative is a comprehensive campaign, with the film launched on various platforms, aiming to challenge stereotypes and inspire girls to break barriers and pursue STEM careers.
Speaking on the second leg of the campaign, Priyali Kamath, Senior Vice President, Skin & Personal Care – Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, Procter & Gamble (P&G) said, “For decades, Procter & Gamble’s legacy skincare brand Olay has maintained a deep understanding of women’s changing needs through science. At Olay, we understand the critical importance of female role models in the STEM field, and our commitment to bridging the gender gap is unparalleled. This year’s theme, centered on the significance of role models and the introduction of mentorship initiative, highlights our commitment to ensuring every young girl knows that she can be the next leader in her field. Through initiatives like #STEMTheGap and our commitment to gender equality, we are working hard to double the number of women in STEM by 2030 and create a more inclusive and equitable future. We’re proud to recognize and support the next generation of women in STEM who will one day be making history in their respective fields, and become role models for young girls in the future.”
Ajay Vikram, Chief Creative Officer of Publicis Groupe Southeast Asia said, “There are many accomplished women leaders in STEM in India today. Yet, a ‘lack of mentors’ is often cited as a big reason why so few women make a career in STEM. This got us thinking. How do we not just celebrate the achievements of women in STEM, but actually be useful to be there at the very moment when needed, a friend and guide to any girl or woman looking for answers as they stand at the crossroads of choosing their path forward. Technology came in handy as a way to help, but we can’t wait to see how much more AI-SHU can do to help women find their way to a future of their choosing.”
The underrepresentation of women in STEM fields with very few female role models to look up to, causes fewer and fewer women to join these fields and many even dropout due to lack of external motivation. Olay’s unwavering dedication to overcome this challenge as a brand that maintains a deep understanding of women is brought out through the various studies and surveys it has conducted to start different initiatives for uplifting and supporting women in STEM.
Link to the film: bit.ly/AISHU
About Olay India
Olay is a worldwide leader in skin care that has been trusted by women for over 60 years. Olay maintains a deep understanding of women’s changing needs and offers products backed by superior science to meet them. Using ground-breaking ingredients and formulations, and proven performance testing, Olay has a range of products that work at the surface cellular level for younger-looking skin and treat the root causes of skin concerns. Female consumers have come to expect this superior product performance from Olay, as it brings healthy looking, beautiful skin to more than 80 million women on five continents.
As a brand rooted in science, Olay India advocates for gender equality in STEM. Olay is committed to help #STEMTheGap in India, inspiring young girls to pursue careers in STEM and funding STEM scholarships for girls across the country.
For more information about Olay, visit www.olayskincare.com/en-in.
About Procter & Gamble (P&G)
P&G serves consumers in India with one of the strongest portfolios of trusted, quality, leadership brands, including Pantene®, Head & Shoulders®, Herbal Essences®, Vicks ®, Ariel®, Tide®, Whisper®, Olay®, Gillette®, AmbiPur®, Pampers®, Oral-B®, and Old Spice®.