Medtronic women share what they will #ChooseToChallenge

Medtronic women share what they will #ChooseToChallenge

 March 09, 2021

Njairé McKoy learned about perseverance from her mother, Marion, a physician whose family immigrated from Guyana to England. More than once, a patient assumed her mother was a nurse. Another got up and left when she walked into the exam room, apparently shocked to learn that Dr. Bobb-McKoy was a 6-foot-1-inch-tall Black woman.

Despite it all, her mother’s experiences only strengthened Njairé’s resolve to become an engineer. Today, she works for Medtronic within the neuroscience portfolio, where she’s seen a commitment to advance diverse women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) roles.

“Watching my mom never give up gave me strength to put myself out there and show up in the world as my best authentic self, which Medtronic champions for all employees,” Njairé said.

Challenging gender norms and stereotypes

Medtronic is celebrating women like Njairé as part of International Women’s Day, a global day honoring the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This year’s theme, Choose To Challenge, recognizes that a challenged world is an alert world. And from challenge comes change. 

Women across Medtronic challenge gender norms and stereotypes every day, particularly those in historically male-dominated STEM fields. Women play pivotal roles in all aspects of our business including developing some of the company’s most innovative products such as an award-winning insulin pump and the world’s smallest pacemaker.

Medtronic initiatives to empower women

Medtronic has several efforts to help women challenge the status quo. Here are a few:

  • Medtronic Women’s Network (MWN): With more than 17,600 employee-members across 71 countries, MWN offers a full suite of professional development, networking, and mentoring programs. The Network also serves as a key advisor in policymaking.
  • Women in Science and Engineering (WISE): Women in Science and Engineering is a ground-breaking initiative aimed at increasing the number of women in STEM functions.
  • Women in IT: A hub within MWN, Women in IT is focused on creating opportunities for women in the information and technology field, which plays a significant role in supporting the company’s global operations.

Check out the stories of women at Medtronic who #ChooseToChallenge.

Bre Jacobs, Senior Research Program Manager

This International Women’s Day, I #ChooseToChallenge gender and racial inequality. I choose to challenge the notion that bold, confident women are aggressive. I challenge the idea that women can't rock stilettos AND lab coats. I challenge the idea that scientists and engineers don't look like me. I challenge the belief that intuitive female emotions have no place in business. I lead from the soul first, and as a scientist, in everything I do. I break down barriers every day as a Black female scientific program manager at Medtronic.

I address biases and welcome the difficult conversations that lead to change as a voice within the African Descent Network (ADN) and Black Engineers at Medtronic (BE@M). I stand up for girls and women and advocate for early STEM exposure through outreach programs like STEM Slumber Parties.

I am an example of what can be achieved when we choose to challenge.

Angela Throm, Sr. Research Manager

This year for International Women’s Day I’m choosing to challenge the stereotype of female technical leaders.

As a woman in a technical leadership role, I’m aware that I’m different than other leaders. I do things differently, sometimes because I want to and sometimes because I must. Some of these differences were amplified over the past year with the challenges of the pandemic. While I was used to occasionally being the only woman in a meeting, this year, I was sometimes the only woman and the only person with kids in the background (or more realistically, climbing on me while I was on camera).

The pandemic gave us a view into our co-worker’s lives. We saw inside homes and met family members and pets. We were forced to be vulnerable. I hope this vulnerability brings acceptance and empathy, and perhaps shows another dimension to our leaders and co-workers. Despite everything that has happened this year, the work was done, products were launched, executive meetings were held, even with some technical difficulties such as barking dogs, and kids on laps. Perhaps this is the silver lining, that we recognize that “different” gets the job done and going forward, we view “different” in a new light.

I am grateful for companies like Medtronic that embrace the “different”, value diversity, and work hard to attract, develop, and retain women.

Herinaina Rabarimanantsoa, Principle R&D Engineer

This International Women’s Day, I #ChooseToChallenge inequity and gender bias because I want everyone to be comfortable sharing their voice, regardless of gender or race. In my role at Medtronic I have been given the opportunity to share my voice as a mother, an engineer, and an African. This has allowed me to advance into leadership positions and be an advocate for diversity within STEM fields.

Over the past few years, I have led a small engineering team, half male, half female, comprised of five different nationalities. This diversity strengthened our team and allowed us to meet goals that we wouldn’t have achieved without this mix of perspectives. For example, we designed a medical device that involved a hub which needed to be held and turned. One of my male colleagues thought the design was fine. But I have smaller hands. When I tried to turn the hub, it was incredibly difficult. So, we redesigned it to work for both male and female hands. This is one good example of how a diverse team can achieve the best design. The more opinions we get, the more innovative we become while maintaining our true self.

Kelly Yang, IT Business Systems Analyst

Happy International Women’s Day! Along with women all over the world, I am choosing to challenge gender and race biases within STEM. Leadership is often comprised of predominately white males, with one female for diversity.

This needs to change.

My mom immigrated to the United States in the late ‘70s and worked in medical assembly her whole life. By working in IT as an Asian woman at one of the largest medical device companies in the world, I am breaking down the barriers that my mom and generations of women before me faced. Diversity in race and gender — particularly in the STEM field — is critical to success and seeing this represented at Medtronic is one of the reasons I chose to work here and commit to build a more inclusive workplace and world.

Kim Chaffin, Sr. Distinguished Scientist

On International Women’s Day, I #ChooseToChallenge the stereotypes associated with being a woman, a mother, a wife, a daughter, AND an engineer. I have worked in Corporate Research at Medtronic for 20+ years. As a Senior Distinguished Scientist, I am often the most senior technical expert at the table and sometimes the only female in the room (or these days on a Zoom call). The breadth of my life experience allows me to see issues through a variety of lenses. After all, answering tough kid questions like, “Why can’t you cure Grandma’s Parkinson’s?” or “Why did George Floyd die?” gives me lots of practice explaining the complex.

I choose to challenge the stereotypes of being a woman in STEM by building teams where everyone is expected to have a voice and expected to debate, but not expected to look alike. I do this because diverse perspectives are critical to making scientific progress. I choose to challenge ALL of us to raise our sons to view female STEM leaders as the norm and to encourage our daughters to become the next generation of STEM professionals. Let’s make a career in STEM a little less lonely for my daughter and for your daughters too.

Priscilla Rojas-Ventura, Sr Engineering Manager, Neuromodulation Pre-Market Quality

WE cannot succeed if half of us don’t have a voice.

This International Women’s Day, I #ChooseToChallenge by demanding equality for women and representation at all levels and across all fields, particularly in STEM. As women, we need to feel strong and empowered in our abilities, knowledge, and voices. We need to believe that we deserve a seat at the table. We need to speak up, be heard, and remember that our voices matter.

All of us — men and women alike — need to act as mentors and build support systems for young girls and women. We need to help widen the bridge of accessibility and understanding; to drive understanding that women are smart, important, and capable of any career that they want, even in a male-dominated field. It means questioning the status quo and being a strong voice on behalf of girls and women who have not yet found their own.

Let's choose to actively challenge our own thoughts, actions, and biases for a better world. Let’s challenge each other and have open dialogue about gender bias and inequality.

Jessica Weber, Sr. Continuous Improvement Engineer

In honor of International Women’s Day, I’d like to share how I #ChoosetoChallenge gender bias and inequity in STEM fields.

As a leader in Medtronic’s Global Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Employee Resource Group, I am leading teams to create a community where technical women across the globe are developed and encouraged to lead. To inspire the next generation, we are teaming up to broaden our K-12 outreach activities and sharing best practices to support our communities. To cultivate talent in the STEM fields, we are collaborating across diverse teams on professional development panels and introducing leadership opportunities within the organization. To support development of our teams, we are leading discussions around personal and professional goals in hopes of breaking down barriers for one another and supporting each other’s triumphs. I’m proud to be a part of such great organizations like Medtronic and SWE. My hope is to continue bringing together diverse technical teams within these organizations to further the Medtronic Mission and further challenge gender bias in STEM fields.

Njairé McKoy, Design Integrity Supplier Quality Engineer II

Throughout my life, I’ve had the experience of being the “only” in the room: Only Black person. Only woman. Only Black female engineer. And at Medtronic things are changing. This International Women’s Day, I #ChooseToChallenge gender and racial norms in STEM, and to strive for a more equitable workplace where the presence of my femininity is not seen as a weakness but rather an important, cherished, and welcomed asset in a diverse working environment.

My mother was my first introduction to a woman in STEM. As a 6’1” Black female immigrant physician, I’ve watched her challenge gender and racial bias, inequity, and microaggressions my entire life. And she persevered. Watching her never give up gave me strength to put myself out there and show up in the world as my best authentic self, which Medtronic champions for all employees.

At Medtronic, I’ve seen a commitment to advance diverse women in STEM roles. Our Inclusion, Diversity and Equity goals are reinforced by employee networks such as the Medtronic Women’s Network and African Descent Network. While we have a way to go to achieve true equity, I’m confident in Medtronic’s dedication to recognize the personal worth of all employees, which in turn creates a more inclusive world.

Ruth Klepfer, CRM R&T Director

This International Women’s Day, I #ChooseToChallenge the stereotypes associated with being a woman in a male-dominated role. I have been at Medtronic for over 20 years, most of which has been in research. As the Defibrillation Solutions Director of Research, I was the first female Research Director in Medtronic's Cardiac Rhythm Management operating unit.

I choose to challenge the stereotypes of STEM leaders by being empathetic and building trust, by widening the scope of debate and not being afraid of new voices, perspectives, and challenges. I choose to challenge the idea that only IQ matters in STEM by modeling emotional intelligence (EQ) skills and intentionally developing them in my teams. I choose to challenge the idea that STEM leaders should look a certain way or speak at a certain volume by advocating for leaders who don’t fit the mold. I choose to challenge the idea that women are less valuable in STEM roles by bringing my full self to work each day and still providing great value to my team, my function, and my company.

Be empowered to challenge the status quo at Medtronic

At Medtronic, you’ll find a diverse team of innovators who bring their worldview, their unique backgrounds, and their individual life experiences to work every day. It’s no accident — Medtronic works hard to cultivate a workforce that reflects its patients and partners. Medtronic believes it’s the only way to drive healthcare forward and remain a global leader in medical technology and solutions.

Search and apply for an exciting job with Medtronic.


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