Together, We Can Increase the Number of Women in STEM

ABBOTT PARK, Ill -- We know the facts: Girls are less likely to be encouraged to study science, technology, engineering and math. Women who do pursue STEM degrees often don't take related jobs. And when women find work in a STEM industry, many leave within a decade.

Abbott (NYSE: ABT) has found a promising way to help address these trends with our high school STEM internship program. About 130 young people have completed our program since 2012, and of them, 97% have gone on to study STEM in college. This has inspired Abbott to today, Women's Equality Day, issue a call to action for other companies to join us – because it will take all of us to change the fact that less than a quarter of the STEM workforce is women.

To help, we are doing something companies rarely do: making our internal plan public. "Shaping the Future of STEM" is our detailed blueprint for a successful high school internship aimed at offering young people, particularly girls, experience in the STEM fields. Abbott is publicly releasing this guide today with the hope that other companies will use it to create similar programs. We're also sending it to CEOs and human resources leaders at Fortune 500 companies.

"Not exposing women who have a talent for math and science to STEM fields is tragic, but solvable," said Corlis Murray, senior vice president of Quality, Regulatory and Engineering Services, Abbott. Murray has had a more than four-decade engineering career, is one of Abbott's high school internship founders and has been an advocate for women's STEM education. "But the remedy must be bigger than a social media post or field trip day. Companies need to offer girls internships when they're still in high school to inspire them and position them for careers when they graduate."

Women make up nearly 40% of Abbott's U.S. science, technology and engineering workforce. While we're not perfect, we're pursuing change, and if we all work together, we can dramatically increase the number of women in the overall U.S. STEM workforce. We know encouraging more women to pursue STEM careers means more diversity of thought in our labs and workspaces, which means we can create even better life-changing breakthroughs.