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Women in Biotech: is the industry opening up?

Posted on: 31 Aug

Over the past decade or so, diversity has become a buzzword across all sectors of business. Companies are investing more money and time than ever before into improving the way they tackle representation and the gender pay gap at all stages from recruitment to the C-Suite. The pharmaceutical industry is just as turned on, and for good reason. When it comes to gender diversity in Medical Sales, women make up a disproportionately small percentage of the workforce: in the 2019 Medical Sales Salary Report, 67% of respondents were men. Furthermore, women were found to earn just 85% of the salary of Asian and Caucasian men- and this problem is present across all industry sectors in Pharmacology. What’s more, the Biopharma sector has very few representatives on Fortune’s latest Most Powerful Women list but the future is looking bright for women in biotech. 

Long-awaited change

Though the industry does seem very male dominated, the good news is that increasing numbers of businesses are looking reshape the way in which their recruitment process, and their business, handles the issue of gender equality. Last year, the biotech industry celebrated the top 25 women leaders, creating a list of some of the most successful females and highlighting the first ever woman to be a CEO of a Fortune 500 Pharma company – Heather Bresch.

Why gender diversity is important in biotech

Having a larger percentage of women in the workforce has time and again been proven to provide countless benefits to the company, as well as to company culture: in the Pharmaceutical and Biotech industries, women excel at relationship building among other skills. Building better relationships is key when it comes to being successful in a competitive industry like Medical Sales, with multiple clients to represent and drugs and devices to sell.  

Championing for more women on boards

In 2019, FTSE 350 celebrated a 30% proportion of women on boards and a huge cry of relief could be heard across industries once the milestone - set back in 2019 by the 30% club – was hit. It’s regularly been reported that including women in the boardroom brings new viewpoints forwards and a good degree of gender diversity it was drives innovative and creative thinking. When translated into business terms, that results in a more efficient business with a healthy reputation in the industry- and as an employer- and even impacts its bottom lines. 

Progress in the biotech sphere

Slowly but surely, however, change is happening across the Biotech and Pharmaceutical industries. There are Women in Biotech networking evenings, and the website Women in Bio is made up of professionals who are committed to promoting careers and leadership for women in sciences. Many companies, including tech companies and Pharmaceuticals like Johnson & Johnson, have also pledged to improving their diversity levels – with the goal of hiring 20,000 women in STEM sectors by 2020. To help the industry reach the goal of becoming more gender diverse and encourage more women into the industry, Johnson & Johnson have hosted their third annual Women in STEM2D Scholars Award with the winners receiving a generous grant along with a three-year mentorship programme.

Keeping on-track

To ensure that momentum doesn’t die out, it’s vital that measures are put in place to encourage a diverse and open Biotech sector. Several high-ranking women in Medical Sales cite a strong work-life balance as essential to being successful within the field, providing them with the flexibility to arrange their personal lives around their work lives – such as working from home. Many companies also offer training programmes that teach women how to be assertive, or how to be an influential leader- one of which is the Rutgers Women’s Leadership Training Programme.

Some businesses and departments are also setting up peer-to-peer mentoring schemes, where women within the industry take the time to mentor new starters within the industry, providing them with a point of contact, support and advice as they progress within the company and on their career. Similarly, it pays to invest time into creating a comprehensive statement on diversity, and in creating a positive recruitment system without bias, unconscious or otherwise- especially as 61.1% of women in Biotech saw the recruitment processes in their last company to be biased.  When it comes to diversity, even the smallest things can help, such as monitoring a company’s metrics like the average incomes of women and men at each level of the business. 

Of course, working in Biotech and in Medical Sales does come with its own set of challenges: everybody, no matter who they are, needs to be driven, innovative and willing to work hard and learn if they want to do well. But now that awareness is growing, the industry is taking great strides when it comes to representing and encouraging women within the industry. 

Come and work for IQVIA

As a business who sees the chance for improvement and positive change, IQVIA is great place to grow your career. With so many businesses raising awareness and causing real difference, it’s clear that change is on the horizon and we’re excited to be at the forefront of that change. Find out more about who we are or view our medical sales jobs to take that next step towards an exciting new career.