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Eight Articles to Celebrate Women in Pharma

We recently opened nominations for The Medicine Maker 2024 Power List (nominate here), which showcases the inspirational and influential players in drug development and manufacturing. We’ve published an annual Power List for nearly 10 years, but there is one glaring and recurring problem: the lack of nominations for women. Every year, the nominations we receive are heavily dominated by (white) men, leading to a final list also dominated by men.

There are, of course, many men doing fantastic work in the pharma industry – men who deserve to be recognized. But there are great women out there who also merit praise and recognition.

Is there a lack of women in STEM and the pharmaceutical industry? Some might say yes. At every major pharma event I have ever attended, I’ve noted a distinct imbalance.

Looking into the percentage of women that make up the pharma industry workforce has proven tricky. Some sources claim that studies have shown that over 60 percent of the pharma industry workforce is made up of women, but digging deeper I’ve found that this figure likely comes from a 2019 McKinsey report about women in the healthcare industry in North America, which is a little broader in remit than just the pharma industry (and also includes nurses, where 80 percent of the workforce is female). However, the report still has important findings; despite such a large percentage of women making up the workforce as a whole, only 26 percent of C-suite positions in healthcare are held by women (with women of color lagging behind white women). The lack of women in leadership positions is something that has been well documented in many industries. For example, in Silicon Valley companies, women hold only 11 percent of executive positions.

All of this suggests the existence of factors that prevent women from advancing their careers. Again, there is plenty of documentation in this area; women in the workplace face myriad challenges, including gender bias, lack of role models, and maintaining a work-life balance alongside the higher likelihood of taking on care responsibilities for children.

In our latest print issue, we spoke with women about their experiences in leadership. Yes, there are still problems, but, now more than ever, women are speaking up about the challenges – and looking to support others climbing the career ladder.

If you’re interested in contributing to future features and articles about women in the pharmaceutical industry, please get in touch: [email protected].

Here are just eight articles on the topic of women in pharma to get you started on thinking more about this important topic. 

Top Tips for Leadership

Angela Osborne is the founder and CEO of eXmoor Pharma. She shares her lessons learned, including the importance of experience, learning, collaboration, and dealing with environments dominated by men.

Read the article

Notes on Disparity from a Female CEO

Do investors scrutinize CEOs more closely when they are women? It may not always be intentional, but research shows that subconscious bias does exist. Vineeta Tripathi, CEO of Vitarka Therapeutics, shares her experiences. 

Read the article

Hello – From Women in Pharma

The Women in Pharma network aims to inspire, empower and shape the pharma industry to better serve women. Meet the minds behind the mission: Sarah Sowerby and Miriam Kenrick. 

Read the article

Run the STEM World (Girls)

In this article from our sister publication, The Analytical Scientist, Patrice Jimerson looks at what actions can be taken to help women and girls thrive in STEM. She writes, “Unconscious bias is by far the biggest roadblock in increasing the number of women in STEM fields. People know what the issues are and what they’re supposed to do about them, but when the rubber meets the road, people still make prejudiced decisions based on their gut reactions.”

Read the article

The Journey of Founding a Company

Stacy Blain, CEO of Concarlo, describes her career and how she came to set up a company, and gives her thoughts on women-founded companies. She says, “Studies have shown that women-lead companies yield better returns on investment, but women-led companies only receive ~2 percent of venture funding. Those two stats seem incongruous and might discourage women to start companies. Honestly, the latter would have discouraged me if I had known that! As a female CEO, I have a depressingly low chance of raising funding for my company. But that has to change, and women need to continue to put themselves and their technologies out there.”

Read the article

Leadership: Keeping the Focus on Innovation

Life sciences is one of the most innovative industries in the world. What are the leadership skills required? Elke de Clerck, Global Science & Innovation Director at Rousselot, offers her perspective. “The question of whether leadership is innate or taught has been a topic of debate for some time. According to some experts, leadership is a combination of both innate qualities and skills that can be developed through education, training, mentorship, and experience,” she says. 

Read the article

Funding Pharma’s All-Female Leaders

In Britain and around the world, the investment ecosystem dominated by males needs an urgent shake up. Martino Picardo explains why he thinks women leaders deserve more funding. 

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Is Flexibility the Way Forward for Female Leaders?

Men continue to dominate upper management positions, but businesses also need the talent and diversity women can bring to drive bottom line results. With a focus on flexibility, things could change for the better.

Read the article

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About the Author
Stephanie Vine

Making great scientific magazines isn’t just about delivering knowledge and high quality content; it’s also about packaging these in the right words to ensure that someone is truly inspired by a topic. My passion is ensuring that our authors’ expertise is presented as a seamless and enjoyable reading experience, whether in print, in digital or on social media. I’ve spent fourteen years writing and editing features for scientific and manufacturing publications, and in making this content engaging and accessible without sacrificing its scientific integrity. There is nothing better than a magazine with great content that feels great to read.

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