TIPPING POINT Women leaders on the greatest challenges in life sciences today

TIPPING POINT Women leaders on the greatest challenges in life sciences today

As the life sciences industry moves out of the spotlight of the Covid-19 pandemic and into a new era, a fierce cohort of women founders and executives is leading the way.

Women still make up a small fraction of board members and C-suite executives in the life sciences industry. A report last month from Cambridge- and Toronto-based Bedford Group/TRANSEARCH found that just 8.6% of surveyed board chairs identified as women, as did 8.5% of CEOs and other executive officers. Both of those numbers are up about three percentage points from where they were in 2020.

“Representation matters. We must not only lead by example, but also build teams, boards, and leadership that reflects the diversity we want to see in the industry,” Cocoon Biotech CEO Ailis Tweed-Kent told the Business Journal.

Greater Boston is home to some of the most exciting up-and-coming biotechs as well as several of the largest pharmaceutical firms in the U.S. Tweed-Kent is among the women who are working to maintain the region’s long-standing reputation as a life sciences hub, while also looking to diversify and better the industry.

Employees are increasingly interested in working for companies with social values that align with their own. With so many firms competing for talent, how corporations invest their time and resources — and what kinds of people they choose to hire and promote — is of paramount concern.

This week, the Business Journal features a handful of Boston-area women in the life sciences industry. We spoke with established executives as well as emerging leaders at our second annual Women Who Lead in Life Sciences event. In the below Q&As, these women discuss their careers, the challenges facing their industry and what needs to be done to promote women in the male-dominated field. Some of the responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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