The brand announced a 10-year commitment to fighting for gender equality in STEM.

By Arielle Tschinkel
August 26, 2020
Olay STEM gender gap campaign

You might not think much about your favorite beauty and skin-care products beyond the selfie-worthy glow they give you. But there's actually a ton of science behind your go-to moisturizer or eye cream. Pretty cool, right?

What's not as cool: the severe lack of women — especially BIPOC women — working in those STEM fields (that's science, technology, engineering, and math). Women make up just 24 percent of STEM workers in the U.S., according to a 2017 report from the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of the Chief Economist (OCE); BIPOC women only make up about 5 percent of STEM workers in the U.S., according to 2019 data from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. (Related: How to Create an Inclusive Environment In the Wellness Space)

In an effort to help close the STEM gender gap, Olay is kicking off its #FacetheSTEMGap campaign, a decade-long commitment to support women in STEM. Over the next 10 years, the brand will strive to achieve gender equality in STEM study programs, double the number of women in STEM careers, and increase diversity and inclusion by tripling the number of BIPOC women in STEM fields, according to a press release. (Related: Olay's Super Bowl Ad Features a Group of Badass Ladies Who Want to #MakeSpaceForWomen In STEM)

Olay's first step in reaching those goals: a $520,000 donation to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), which provides scholarship, internship, and fellowship programs and financial support to Black American college students.

In addition to pledging financial support to the UNCF, Olay is also showcasing women who are already kicking butt in their respective STEM fields. As part of its #FacetheSTEMGap campaign, the brand is swapping out models in Olay advertisements and featuring "role models" — aka real women in STEM — instead.

Over the next year, look out for Olay ads featuring powerhouse STEM workers such as Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code; engineers Erica Joy Baker and Alyssa George; theoretical physicist Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski; chemists Markaisa Black and Tori Moore; and Alyssa Carson, the world's youngest astronaut-in-training. (Related: This Female Entrepreneur Is Investing In Other Women-Led Businesses)

In their Olay ads, the role models will deliver messages using what appears to be "code" and scientific formulas for readers to decipher. Regardless of whether or not you can actually read the code, the underlying message in each ad remains the same: Women are scientists, and you can be one, too.

"I grew up watching TV where Black women were depicted as doctors, lawyers, athletes, or addicts, with little in between. Rarely, if ever, did I see a Black woman technologist. Even today, images of Black women in computing are few and far between," Baker said in a statement. "I want young Black girls to see as many faces of Black women in STEM as possible, as often as possible."

To Baker's point, sometimes merely seeing someone who looks like you living your dreams is enough to help you believe your goals really are attainable, added Moore. "My passion lies in motivating and encouraging young women to pursue careers in STEM through shared experiences, volunteer work, and being an active role model," she continued in her statement. "I'm very involved when it comes to the elevation of others, and I love to show girls how fun science can be." (Related: White Celebrities Are Handing Over Their Instagram Accounts to Black Women for the #ShareTheMicNow Campaign)

Closing the gender gap in STEM certainly won't happen overnight. But in the meantime, the power of representation and visibility cannot be understated.

As Baker put it: "Olay's campaign will show young girls that they can not only be the change they want to see int he world, but that they can be the creators of that change."