It’s no secret that the life sciences industry suffers from a lack of gender diversity. Our recent report, “Opening the Path to a Diverse Future,” gave us some sobering stats to think about – but it also provided recommendations on how to narrow the gender gap, especially at the highest levels of management. It made clear there’s no silver bullet to fixing the problem, but will take a concerted effort from both the private and public sectors, especially the biopharma companies, to improve women’s participation in leadership roles in the industry. Last Friday’s announcement is a perfect example of how the industry can come together to tackle the problem from the ground up.
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) and Takeda Pharmaceuticals announced the Massachusetts Next Generation Initiative, or MassNextGen, a five-year, $1 million initiative that will fund and support life sciences startups run or controlled by women. Starting in 2018, two companies will be selected each year, and will not only receive direct funding, but will have access to a network of “executive coaches” who can provide advice on refining their business strategies and raising capital.
The partnership is an important step for the industry because it shows how life sciences companies can support efforts to increase diversity outside of just their respective organizations, and we applaud Takeda for taking a leadership role in this regard. There are so many great programs and organizations already working to close the gender gap in the life sciences and it’s essential that the industry supports and promotes those programs. Additionally, the initiative is a perfect example of how the MLSC can use its resources and network to help accelerate the growth of new life sciences companies in Massachusetts from the ground up.
Our industry will only remain the best in Massachusetts if we continue to welcome diverse companies and individuals to bring fresh perspective and new ideas. At MassBio, we hope more companies will see the positive effects of these efforts and will take their own steps to improving diversity, whether that’s within their respective organizations or the industry at large. There is always more work to be done and we don’t pretend progress will happen overnight but every small action helps.
To learn more about MassBio’s gender diversity efforts, visit: https://www.massbio.org/diversity