Home » Women in STEM » What you need to know about a career in medical devices

Two women at the heart of the medical devices industry explain the different routes into the sector — and the diverse opportunities that are available once you get there.

Ann Clarkin

HR Business Partner, West Pharmaceutical Services

There’s a huge range of jobs available in the medical devices industry. These include process technicians, engineers, automation technicians, metrologists, microbiologists… the list goes on.

There are three main routes into the sector: traditional third level qualifications; apprenticeships and internal promotions.

Apprentices are one of our key talent pools and strategically important to our business. However, our apprenticeship programmes struggle to attract female applications and we’d like to see this change. The key is speaking to secondary school students and their parents to explain the wonderful apprenticeships available, the nationally recognised qualifications they attain, and the career progression options available post qualification.

The industry is dynamic and innovative, so the work environment is fast-paced and exciting. As the sector continues to grow, it offers stability in terms of job continuity, and variety in terms of roles and career opportunities.

It’s also an industry that prioritises gender balance and has a gender leadership strategy. Ahead of International Women’s Day this year, the Irish Medtech Association — the Ibec group representing our sector — launched an initiative called ‘Inspiring girls, supporting female leaders’. This set out the business strategy in our sector for increasing the number of women working in, as well as progressing into, leadership in manufacturing.

Maria Makarevich

Site Microbiologist, West Pharmaceutical Services

For the last two years, I’ve been going into primary schools and secondary schools to give presentations to pupils about what I do. I think it’s really important for primary school children to find out about opportunities in STEM before they go to secondary school and start choosing their subjects. I always get a great response from a lot of the girls. They come up to me afterwards with additional questions and feedback, and they’re really engaged and excited. It’s so gratifying to see.

I always say that working in STEM is a bit like being a detective and an adventurer. You’re always problem solving, you have to think on your feet and you’re constantly learning new things. So, anyone who’s interested in puzzles would love a career in STEM.

There are lots of misconceptions about it, though. For instance, I’m a microbiologist — but I don’t spend too much time in the laboratory. Mainly I’m on site dealing with lots of different people and departments, so it’s a more sociable role than people realise. Also, there’s a myth that STEM is always technical, but it doesn’t have to be. It depends on the specific area you’re interested in — and there are so many to choose from!

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