Johnson & Johnson, in partnership with Lero, announced this year’s recipients of its prestigious Women in STEM2D (WiSTEM2D) Undergraduate Awards at the first ever national event held in Thomond Park Stadium, Limerick.

Lero supports the programme in University of Limerick, one of five universities involved in the awards. A total of 62 students from Trinity College Dublin, University of Limerick, University College Cork, University of Galway and Munster Technology University have received scholarships as part of the programme.

Research published by the Higher Education Authority earlier this year identified that 35% of students in STEM-related courses at third level are female. Furthermore, the HEA noted that the gender gap continues to remain evident at post-primary level.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, said: “Huge congratulations to the recipients of the Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D Award on their achievements. What they have achieved to date is inspirational and I hope will encourage more women to study STEM. There is so much more we can do to reduce the gender gap in STEM studies and as Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science I am committed to pulling every lever to do so, and making sure that there are no barriers to educational opportunities.

“It’s a great time to celebrate this occasion as it’s Science Week, a time when we celebrate the wonders of science and the potential it holds. Our capacity to tackle the challenges of the future will be significantly enhanced through advancements in research, science, and innovation and it’s clear to me the full potential of the STEM community can only be realised when we eliminate gender disparities.

“I want to thank industry leaders like Johnson & Johnson for their commitment to empowering and investing in brilliant young women. By igniting the spark of curiosity in young minds, nurturing the next generation of STEM leaders, and supporting the development of a robust talent pipeline, we are investing in our shared future.”

Lero’s Professor Ita Richardson commended the award recipients, saying: “In Lero, we are delighted to support young women in pursuing education and careers in the STEM2D disciplines: Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Manufacturing and Design. Lero has a proven commitment to gender equality and works with young people at every level of the Irish education system to increase the number of females choosing STEM subjects and pursuing fulfilling careers in the subjects.

“This year’s ceremony, which brought together all the award winners from across Ireland, was very special. The students’ enthusiasm and positivity were infectious, and I was privileged to be among a range of speakers highlighting the successful and rewarding careers available to women in STEM subjects.”

Anna Rafferty, Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D University Lead and Director of Strategy, Johnson & Johnson Campus Ireland, said: "Our Irish WiSTEM2D journey started in Limerick in 2016, and it is wonderful to be here again eight years on, to see how this programme has grown. This is now a truly national initiative, impacting the early careers of women and STEM in all corners of the country.”

“Johnson & Johnson's commitment to supporting women in STEM runs deep. We understand the tremendous value diversity brings to innovation and progress, and we believe that by empowering and investing in these brilliant young women, we are not only shaping the future of STEM but also advancing solutions that will benefit our global community."

In addition to the award, each scholarship recipient receives industry mentorship, leadership training, career workshops, Johnson & Johnson site visits, and participation in WiSTEM2D events aimed at bolstering their future in STEM careers. They were also presented with bespoke framed glass artwork crafted by Fermoy-based artist Suzanne O'Sullivan.