"Science is so inherent to Olay's DNA, so we really want to help change what the face of STEM looks like," Olay Brand Director Janelle Wichmann tells PEOPLE exclusively of the inspiration behind the float, which features a woman holding an astronaut helmet

By Hanna Flanagan
Updated October 23, 2020 04:10 PM
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Credit: Olay

After announcing a 10-year commitment to double the number of women and triple the number of multicultural women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) professions through the Face the STEM Gap earlier this year, Olay will further champion the cause this Thanksgiving with an empowering Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float.

The design, created in partnership with Macy’s, features a woman wearing traditional cornrow braids and a space-themed bomber jacket with a patch on the arm, which serves "as a reminder of Olay's continued commitment to get more women into STEM roles," Olay Brand Director Janelle Wichmann tells PEOPLE exclusively.

"We recognize that women only make up 24 percent of the jobs in [STEM]. Science is so inherent to Olay's DNA, so we really want to help change what the face of STEM looks like. It's part of our 10-year brand mission to solve that STEM gap."

Other elements on the float meant to represent STEM include a double helix, a robotic arm, mathematical symbols and computer coding. The beauty brand's iconic red jar — also a symbol of the research the brand is committed to — also adorns the side of the float.

When the design parades through New York City on Thanksgiving Day, Wichmann says Olay (the first-ever skincare brand to participate in the annual event) hopes girls and young women across America who want to work in STEM will feel "really excited and inspired" to enter male-dominated fields.

The design also showcases Olay's continued push to replace models with role models, much like the woman portrayed in the float: "Olay partners with a lot of really great and fantastic women, and we have through the years," Wichmann explains. "You're seeing more real female scientists and real female engineers from us. We're excited once again to bring this kind of STEM message and ambition to the masses."

In September, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the longstanding Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade tradition would look different this year in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The 94th edition of the event will not march down the traditional 2.5 mile route and instead will be broadcast live from 34th Street on Thanksgiving Day.

"It will be a different kind of event. They’re reinventing the event for this moment in history, and you’ll be able to feel the spirit and the joy of that day on television, online," de Blasio said at the time.

Credit: Ralph Bavaro/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

When asked how many "firsts" this year’s parade will entail due to the new broadcast format, Susan Tercero, Executive Producer of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, quips, "probably too many to count!"

She continues: "This will be the first time we will produce the Macy’s Parade during a pandemic, the first time we are not starting the Parade uptown, the first time we will feature our colleagues singing at home to form our Singing Christmas Tree choir, and the first time we will fly our giant character balloons with a new configuration of vehicles [rather than the usual handlers]."

Still, the parade — a staple in many Thanksgiving Day traditions across the country — will "feel the same" to viewers at home, Tercero says, assuring that it will "will be filled with all of the elements they know and love."

"Our signature giant character balloons, animated floats, street performances, clowns and more will all march in front of the NBC cameras on 34th street," she shares. "People are looking for some sense of normalcy, a sense of relief from the challenges that we have all faced this year. With everything else being cancelled, it was important that we found a way to keep this cherished tradition alive. Everyone is expecting to turn on their television to see the balloons, floats and Santa on Thanksgiving morning, and we are excited to be able to continue with this 90-plus year legacy."