Olay’s New Campaign Uses Scientific Formulas to Explain the Gender Gap in STEM

The brand unveiled a commitment to reach gender equality in STEM by 2030

Olay has extended its partner network to the United Negro College Fund to help make strides toward the brand's 10-year commitment to closing the STEM gap. Olay
Headshot of Mónica Marie Zorrilla

Following its star-studded and intergalactic #MakeSpaceForWomen Super Bowl LIV spot, Procter & Gamble-owned skin-care brand Olay is continuing its mission to bring more women into STEM. 

Olay’s latest campaign, #FaceTheSTEMGap, launched on Women’s Equality Day to announce the brand’s concrete efforts in closing the STEM gender gap by 2030. Today, women make up less than a quarter of professionals in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. 

“We received tremendous, positive feedback on our #MakeSpaceForWomen campaign, which is why we are excited to build on that momentum with our #FaceTheSTEMGap work,” Janelle Wichmann, Olay brand director, told Adweek.

Olay’s $500,000 donation to Girls Who Code in the #MakeSpaceForWomen campaign was only the start of a long-term partnership with that organization. “We learned that simply donating to an organization is not enough. To have meaningful impact, we need to make a long-term commitment to the right cause, partner with relevant people and organizations, and initiate the conversations to ensure that the realities we are facing are at the forefronts of people’s minds,” Wichmann said.

Along with sharing facts about the STEM gender gap in two minute-long spots, the #FaceTheStemGAP campaign, created in partnership with Saatchi & Saatchi New York, also features real women in STEM to serve as both models and role models. These women include Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code; Erica Joy Baker, software engineer; Sabrina Gonzalez-Pasterski, theoretical physicist; Alyssa Carson, the youngest astronaut-in-training; Markaisa Black, P&G chemist; Alyssa George, P&G engineer; and Tori Moore, P&G chemist. In the videos, the women deliver a decipherable “code” in the form of ideas, equations and scientific languages (Python, electrical circuitry, chemistry, chemical and diagrammatic ciphers) to express a simple message: Women are scientists, and you can be one too. 

Wichmann explained to Adweek that “superior science” and a connection to STEM have been at the core of Olay’s brand valuation and product creation. Women hold key leadership roles across Olay and P&G’s business operations. “Currently, more than 47% of our managers globally are women—at more junior levels, it is 50/50,” Wichmann said, “and we are making consistent progress to get to 50/50 in our executive roles.”

“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,” said Baker, in a statement. “That’s why I’m proud and grateful to be a part of Olay’s commitment to closing the STEM gap. I want young Black girls to see as many faces of Black women in STEM as possible, as often as possible. Olay’s campaign will show young girls that they can not only be the change they want to see in the world, but that they can be the creators of that change.” 

This commitment will start with a $520,000 donation to the United Negro College Fund, which will provide support to Black women who are underrepresented in STEM. Olay’s total allocation of financial resources to support women in STEM (primarily via scholarships and internships) will be $1 million.

Olay’s other #FaceTheSTEMGap goals include doubling the number of women in STEM careers and increasing diversity and inclusion in these fields by tripling the number of multicultural women in STEM careers. 

“As a scientist and a Black woman, I can’t express how special it was to star in Olay’s ad campaign announcing the brand’s commitment to inspiring not only more women to enter STEM fields, but also more women of color,” added Black. “I’m proud to serve as an example of STEM success for future generations of Black women, and I’m honored that my company chose me to be one of many inspirational female faces of this incredibly important campaign.” 

Join Adweek for Purpose-Driven Marketing, a live virtual event on Sept. 29, to discuss authentic brand purpose and hear insights from top marketers on navigating these uncertain times. Register now

@monicroqueta monica.zorrilla@adweek.com Mónica is a breaking news reporter at Adweek.