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Are There Enough Female Leaders in the Pharmaceutical Industry?

​In the past couple of years the Pharmaceutical industry has changed dramatically – not only in terms of science, but also in terms of diversity in the workforce.

Recent studies have shown that women in the pharma industry represent 61% of the workforce, which is considerably higher than other industries. However, when looking at leadership in this space, the percentage of female leaders is significantly lower. Less than 10% of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) in the Biopharma industry are women, and women make up only 25% of leadership teams in the Pharmaceutical space. However, this is a figure that has undoubtedly improved from previous years. 

One country making significant moves in the right direction is Singapore, where many female leaders in power have emerged into the industry. Many companies are working to address the gender equality issue within the workplace and are coming together to discuss solutions and pave the way forward. Many have been strengthening their diversity profile through workshops, open discussions and ensuring women are supported through a number of mentoring and leadership programs. This will help with career progression and ensure that no one is left behind on the progression ladder. 

Recently, Merck Life Science have made changes to their leadership team. Anke Schenkel, who is currently Head of Group Controlling & Risk Management, was promoted to Head of Controlling Life Science. She joined Merck from PricewaterhouseCoopers AG in 2010 and has since held various leadership positions in Group Finance. This is her second promotion within the group.

The number of senior female leaders in the Pharmaceutical industry has risen over the last few years, from the likes of Kite Pharma appointing Christi Shaw as CEO in August 2019, Jenn Adams being appointed as CEO by August Bioservices in July 2020, and Sylke Hassel’s appointment to CEO at Pharmazell Group in 2021. 

One influential leader of note is Kiran Mazunmbar Shaw. She is a global business leader with over four decades of experience. Kiran Mazunmbar Shaw started her Biotech business in her garage in India back in 1978 and has seen it grow from strength to strength. She has seen the different changes within the industry and how it has developed through the years and is now changing people’s lives for the better across the globe. She has been recognized for many different awards and is the board member of many companies.

It is clear that more work is needed to improve gender diversity in the Pharmaceutical industry, the beginning of which we have seen. Here at Mantell Associates, we are commissioning a report focusing on diversity in the workplace across the Life Science and Pharmaceutical space, and as an organisation we ensure that all work carried out across our five teams is done so without bias, and with diversity and equality in mind.

Mantell Associates is a specialist Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Head-Hunting organisation. To find out how we can assist with your business requirements, contact Jess Hampson on +44 (0)20 3778 0990 or jess.hampson@mantellassociates.com