STEM education for women is crucial, says Abbott EPD's Amanda Bout
Now Reading
Advancing STEM education for women is crucial, says Abbott EPD’s Amanda Bout

Advancing STEM education for women is crucial, says Abbott EPD’s Amanda Bout

The HR head – METAP & CIS region – for the global healthcare company shares why it is key to empower women pursuing a career in healthcare and STEM roles

Neesha Salian
Amanda Bout HR Lead at Abott EPD METAP and CIS on why STEM education is key for women

How can more women drive positive change in the healthcare sector, including in fields such as STEM?

As a global health technology company with a presence spanning more than 160 different countries, we know it’s critical to have scientists and engineers from different backgrounds, with different perspectives, solving the world’s biggest problems with their smart, imaginative thinking. This is why we are shaping our organisation for the future by advancing STEM education and internships for high school and college students globally and in the Middle East region.

Our interns work on meaningful, challenging projects to enable them to understand the importance of their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)  education and recognise how their contributions directly impact healthcare.

By 2030, we aim to create opportunities in our STEM programmes and internships for more than 100,000 people worldwide.

Men still outnumber women in most STEM-related careers. However, this is gradually changing. UNESCO reports that in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region, 57 per cent of STEM graduates are women, with the UAE boasting an even higher figure of 61 per cent.

In 2022, we achieved 45 per cent female representation in STEM roles. This is good, but our work here isn’t finished. We remain committed to helping build and inspire our pipeline of future problem solvers.

What strategies are crucial for creating an inclusive environment that caters to the needs of different age groups and diverse backgrounds?

We firmly believe that every one of our employees deserves to be seen, heard, included, and appreciated for who they truly are. This is fundamental to how we work together to achieve our common purpose — helping more people live better lives through good health.

It starts with listening and understanding what matters most to our people. We embed the values that are important to us into the culture and the way we work at all levels in the organisation so that we can all be our true selves and bring out the best in each other.

It also means piloting new ways to drive diversity and inclusion. A great example within our medicines business here in the Middle East region is our ‘reverse mentoring’ programme that allows early-career employees to mentor some of our senior leaders. Recently, a millennial employee within our Middle East region was assigned to ‘reverse mentor’ a senior leader to help them develop their digital capabilities.

These reverse mentoring relationships have proven to be incredibly beneficial for many reasons: from gaining a better understanding of different people, roles and realities, to breaking down silos and hierarchical barriers, and of course, learning new skills.

What challenges do women leaders face in reaching the top, and how does Abbott address them?

At the end of 2022, women made up. 41 per cent of our global management team. We support them in several ways, including through our employee networks, which help advance professional development, provide mentorship, and offer opportunities to bolster leadership experience.

One such network is the Women Leaders of Abbott (WLA), which was established in 2000. The network focuses on helping advance women’s careers and leadership at all levels through a meaningful work environment and dynamic regional and global programmes. In 2022, the network launched three additional chapters in the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan with more than 300 participants so far. This initiative has successfully been bringing more women together to connect, help and support each other’s growth.

Additionally, to retain women throughout their careers and nurture their progression into leadership roles, we design flexible work models and benefits. This comes in structured HR frameworks but also in small adjustments, which can make a significant difference, like scheduling breakfast meetings instead of dinners to accommodate better employees with family commitments – no matter their gender.

What key tips can you offer women looking to drive positive change in the healthcare industry?

Come to the industry with a mindset to learn and grow. The healthcare space is constantly evolving, which means there are always opportunities to find new solutions to help people live longer and better through good health.

Research consistently highlights the advantages of diverse and inclusive teams in making smarter decisions. PwC’s 2022 report, MENA Women In Work, shows that advancing women’s equality can add $12tn to global growth.

More women are needed at all levels and across various fields in the healthcare sector to fuel that growth and help bring new life-changing products and technologies to improve people’s health.

You might also like


Scroll To Top