International Women's Day: we pledge for STEM talents

In the context of International Women’s Day (IWD), ArcelorMittal Luxembourg organised a panel discussion on "Women and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics): a growing challenge for industry" on March 8 in Luxembourg-city.

Renata Obiala, PhD and Senior Researcher at the University of Luxembourg, working within the Chair of Steel and Façade Engineering supported by ArcelorMittal Luxembourg, joined the event to share her experience and vision on the STEM challenge.

ArcelorMittal employees with STEM profiles were invited to feed interactions on the issue:

  • Claire-Hélène Deffrennes, safety coordinator at the Rolling Mill 2, ArcelorMittal Belval plant (Esch/Alzette);
  • Nicoleta Popa, Head of the Structural Long Products Department and Structural Long Products Portfolio Director, ArcelorMittal R&D center Esch/Alzette;
  • Carlo Koepp, CEO of ArcelorMittal Differdange plant;
  • Lieve Logghe, Chief financial officer, ArcelorMittal Europe - Flat Products and Member of Flat Products Europe Management Committee (Ghent, Belgium).

From left to right: Sapna Arora (Head of Internal Communications, ArcelorMittal Europe), Renata Obiala, Lieve Logghe, Carlo Koepp, Claire-Hélène Deffrennes, Nicoleta Popa

Why did we choose such a theme to celebrate IWD?

STEM talents represent the future of our society as well as the one of our group. By investing in developing these disciplines, ArcelorMittal Luxembourg is ensuring its capacity for product and process innovation. STEM talents embody the competitiveness of the company and so represent a large part of its sustainable development strategy. ArcelorMittal Luxembourg has to boost its attractiveness to young, highly skilled graduates, engineers and technicians as well as offering career perspectives within its own organization.

Celebrating International Women's Day is empowering women. ArcelorMittal in Luxembourg empowers women by valuing differences and promoting gender balance in leadership roles within core business activities fueled by STEM skills.

First of all, the PhD Renata Obiala explained its personal and academic journey as well as professional experiences as Research engineer. She stressed sizeable projects she worked on in the steel industry and within the Chair of Steel and Façade Engineering in the University of Luxembourg. This was the opportunity to learn more about the industrial R&D and keys to success, including innovation and creativity as well as its own vision to STEM talents.

Afterwards, the panel discussion dealt with the personal reasons for choosing a STEM route as well as the barriers that could prevent women entering in STEM and succeeding in STEM roles. The panel members explained what they love in their job that could inspire and enhance vocation.

Moreover, the discussion pointed out in what extents the culture of industrial companies can be a barrier to female STEM talents and what could be done to encourage more women in STEM within groups like ArcelorMittal. The only man within the panel discussion underlined that currently, the relevant question is more on general attractiveness of STEM talents within the steel industry than on gender one. He pointed out that ArcelorMittal is working on that issue in Luxembourg especially with the Fedil (business federation of industries in Luxembourg).

All agreed to say that STEM talents, native or not, do not depend on gender and that vocation has to be created at school in deep collaboration with companies. One panelist added that we have to be much more aware that we are the best ambassadors of our Group.

As STEM talents, the members could express as well their vision and debate about stereotypes, challenges they overcame, leadership styles, career paths, role models and work-life balance. 

All panellists agreed that we do not need one day in the year (IWD) to celebrate women’s achievements, but the fact that IWD is celebrated the world over, does suggest that parity is yet to be reached.