Women in Pharma - The Challenges and Opportunities

September 07, 2016

Somehow, “why did I get here” doesn’t get as much space as “how did I get here” when professionals talk about their careers. You hit a milestone and answer the “how” question. The answer to the “why” is the one you keep to yourself. Or is it the one women keep to themselves? If you’re attending the 2016 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo you will get to hear about the how, the why, and the wherefores of leading female executives in the field. Our first Women in Pharma event takes place on 19 September. We will explore the careers of senior female pharmaceutical professionals who choose to focus on career advancement while balancing their birthright as women. ISPE Women in Pharma Logo Here is a glimpse of what you can expect from the Women in Pharma: "I am a pharmaceutical professional, committed to my career and my colleagues.  I am also a woman and a mother.  Do the latter titles make me any different, from a work perspective, than a man who is a pharmaceutical professional, equally committed to his career, colleagues and family?  It does not have to, but unfortunately, some believe it does. The generation of women who have long since retired, and some no longer with us, paved the way for today’s senior female executives.  In turn, our current executives are setting the path for the mid-career generation of aspiring female executives. "Yet, we are not doing this alone. Like it or not, our fellow male colleagues influence us. Together, we grow within our industry independent of gender.  Successful women in industries that have been male dominated have learned to partner with all of their colleagues, to focus on common principles, and embrace the unique traits women can often bring to a situation.   Women who exude confidence, who focus on others, and approach situations without relying on stereotypes, often rise above any gender bias, real or perceived. "I am a woman who worked diligently to become a pharmaceutical professional.   I chose the latter without ignoring my gender.  I strive to be respected as the person I am, and valued as a member of the team."

Professional with 30+ years in industry

"I’m a pharmaceutical professional, toxicologist, project manager, validation specialist, wife, mother and daughter.  I did not get to where I am in my career without the support, wisdom and mentoring of others.  My mother, who majored in math and minored in physics in the 1960s, and my pharmacist father encouraged me and let me believe that there was no limit to what I could do or accomplish. " I have had an interesting and fulfilling career, with some “bumps” along the way.  Yet the “bumps” are where I have learned and grown the most. My PhD advisor, Stephanie Padilla, told me that I was not going to always be the best employee, the best wife, the best mother, or the best friend all of the time. "A lesson I learned on my own is that I don’t have to commit to everything I am asked to do in order to succeed.  I learned to say “no.” I now strive to make commitments only when I know I have the appropriate amount of passion and time to devote to them. We advance in our careers through community – with guidance from peers, mentors, bosses, family, and friends.  If you are passionate about children, take time to judge a science fair competition, tutor, or volunteer alongside kids in your community.  Be a professional who takes time to recognize and invest in young professionals – both men and women.  In this world where faults and weaknesses are clearly noted, be an encourager and praise people for their strengths."

Professional with 15+ years in industry

"Every day I wake up with the intent to manage my responsibilities for the day to the best of my ability. Often times I fall short of the high expectations I have set for myself. These unrealistic expectations are not set by my company or my spouse, they were set by me. In reality I probably need to give myself a break. I need to take a pause and realize that being perfect every day is not required by anyone that I work with or in my family life. " I am the best employee some days, while my family obligations take a back seat for a moment. Other days, I am the best wife and momma that I can be, while my job takes a time out when I need to be present at home. The takeaway here is, it’s OK. It is OK to tell my colleagues that I need to join my family for reading night at school or take a moment for my husband and me to have lunch together without the phone. It is also OK for me in my relationship to work late or have my spouse put the kids to bed because I am on a phone call with someone on the other side of the globe. "My work commitments ebb and flow just like my family obligations. I am always stretching my limits, and wanting to learn from other women (and men) on how they manage their families and their careers. The best part is that it is possible to have amazing careers with leadership and decision-making positions, and to have an amazing family."

Professional with 10+ years in industry

The 2016 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo will hold a Women in Pharma roundtable discussion focusing on the challenges and opportunities these women have embraced as they progressed though their career. Join us at the Women in Pharma event to recognize their dedication, celebrate their successes, and help launch a scholarship fund that will support and inspire other women in the industry at various stages of their careers.