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Women Currently only 10% of Biotech Boards, Gender Study Shows

Authored by Karl Simpson

In a new research study into gender diversity in biotech leadership, the findings convey a picture of significant male dominance in biotech boardroom. The research conducted by Liftstream, a specialist life sciences executive search practice, examined 1491 biotech companies in Massachusetts, California and Europe. The research shows only 10% of board members in small and medium biotechs were women, with over half of biotech boardrooms all-male.

Given the capital intensive nature of biotech, the research looked at the influence of venture capital on Board and executive leadership selection. Heavy reliance on the existing networks and unstructured hiring processes are cited as a reason for such low numbers of female board members. The research also found that within venture capital partnerships, only 9.6% of partners were female, whereas in corporate VC the female representation was almost double this figure. The report points towards the fact that with venture capital being so male dominated, this potentially limits the opportunities for women executives in portfolio companies.

Data provides specific comparisons between both private and public biotech companies, with little change in the US between these two groups of companies. Liftstream exclusively revealed to the NVCA that the quotient of female leadership varied little across the stages of company maturation, from pre-clinical through to product launch. This indicates that the diversity of the companies do not improve once the company reaches the clinical or commercial stages, areas where the perceived pipeline of female executives is more extensive.

The free 60 page report from Liftstream, now available for download, analyses the data from the 1491 companies and summarises findings from interviews with 60 prominent Board and C-level leaders, plus investors from across the sector, as well as a survey of 530 industry professionals.

The report details several data sets that look at the biotech leadership landscape in the US and EU, the engagement of senior women for senior appointments, as well as influencing factors which contribute to this sector outlook, including the role venture capital plays. It highlights some important measures which could, if introduced, improve the gender diversity of leadership in biotechnology.  It does this through detailed case studies from companies such as Merck Serono (EMD Serono), Biogen Idec, Cubist, J&J and Sanofi, as well as a series of practical recommendations drawn from the findings, providing distinct recommendations for the VC industry.

The 60-page report is free to download now from:

Karl Simpson, CEO, Liftstream:

Karl Simpson has over 20 years’ experience in the recruitment industry gained in Europe and the US. He is currently the founder and CEO of Liftstream Limited, an Executive Search recruitment practice working exclusively in the life sciences sector. Karl Simpson founded the company in 2003 and over the past decade, Liftstream has successfully recruited executives across the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical technology sectors. About Liftstream:


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