WIP Jayshree Seth

‘Our world requires innovation. Innovation needs science. Science demands diversity.’

A conversation with Jayshree Seth, chief science advocate and corporate scientist, 3M

In this episode of Work in Progress, I am joined by Jayshree Seth, chief science advocate and corporate scientist for global manufacturing company 3M.

Seth’s role at the company is two-pronged. As a corporate scientist, she uses her engineering skills to solve complex problems and, in her words, “find solutions that stick.” (It is 3M after all!)

As the chief science advocate, she works with people of all ages – including young girls and women and individuals from underrepresented populations – to help them develop a passion for science, one that might lead to a career and help fill a global skills gap especially in the skilled trades.

She says there is a negative perception of the skilled trades that is hurting recruiting efforts despite the fact the majority of these jobs demand some kind science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) skills.

“Skilled jobs are STEM jobs The advances are so rapid that the skills needed also evolved. But whether it’s chip making or ship building or solar panels or wind blades or EVs to 5G, the role of STEM skills is there in all of them. Whether it is with associate degrees in skilled trades or whether it is advanced degrees and all the way to graduate degrees, they’re highly skilled in science and engineering and they’re needed,” explains Seth.

“Our entire STEM advocacy platform is about creating a solid pipeline of STEM talent. We are active across the entire ecosystem, which is from early encouragement, exposure, empowerment, education, economics, and equity across the spectrum. It’s important because we also want to make sure that we are getting enough diversity. Without that diversity, we are not gonna be able to solve the problems that we face, not just our company but our country.”

Seth says she hopes to install a passion for STEM in the young people she reaches out to through 3M’s STEM awareness programs. Although her parents expected her to go into engineering, like her father, she didn’t develop her own passion for it under she was deep into her training.

“Believe it or not, it was in graduate school. I never quite appreciated why I was doing it, because I always thought, I want to help people, I want to improve lives, I want to make a difference. And I wasn’t sure how I would do that. Then I was working on my Ph.D. project and I saw the human context in it and I realized I could make a difference,” she tells me.

“You need to make sure people see the passion and in other people having a satisfying career in these fields. That’s why when I’m talking to students. We want to show that your potential is exponential. You can blaze trails, you can shape your careers, you can bring your interest.

“I talk about bringing my interest in humanities and social sciences into STEM. And that’s the whole idea of breaking these preconceived notions and dismantling the stereotypes and archetypes that people have of these certain fields. It is so important.

“The reason why it’s important is that science needs that diversity. Science needs you to be you. Our world requires innovation. Innovation needs science. Science demands diversity and diversity warrants equity.”

You can hear more of how Jayshree Seth and 3M are encouraging young people to follow a STEM career pathway in the podcast. Listen here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Episode 280: Jayshree Seth, Chief Science Officer & Corporate Scientist, 3M
Host & Executive Producer: Ramona Schindelheim, Editor-in-Chief, WorkingNation
Producer: Larry Buhl
Executive Producers: Joan Lynch and Melissa Panzer
Theme Music: Composed by Lee Rosevere and licensed under CC by 4
Download the transcript for this podcast here.
You can check out all the other podcasts at this link: Work in Progress podcasts