iSpeak Blog

Growth of the Women in Pharma at ISPE

Frances M. Zipp
Growth of the Women in Pharma at ISPE

When Women in Pharma® (WIP) at ISPE was first launched at the 2016 Annual Meeting in Atlanta, it was after a few previous attempts mainly as a female-centric gathering. In Atlanta, we officially started talking about the professional issues that are faced by women in the biopharmaceutical industry as well as the path to equality in the workplace, not just diversity. In Atlanta, we made a conscious choice to involve senior executive leaders, male and female both. Not only was the initial session well attended, there were a great deal of men in the room at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, and they participated in the interactive break-outs that occurred after the panel discussion with just as much passion and fervor as their female colleagues.

From the official inception in 2016, Women in Pharma® at ISPE grew as an initiative, raising money for scholarships by button sales and sponsoring networking dinners. From year-to-year, at both the Annual Meeting as well as other meetings globally, Women in Pharma® tracks expanded, where women in executive leadership could talk freely about their stories, the importance of mentorship and coaching in order to achieve, and that work-life balance is more a matter of choices and sacrifices for everyone, male and female both.

In all of these sessions over all of these years, the main takeaway is that good leadership is more about being empowered, is gender-neutral and the focus is on equality. Good leaders use both feminine and masculine communication styles in their interpersonal interactions, empower their employees, and have an eye towards cultural sensitivity in the workplace. It is a successful leader’s skills and potential that drive career growth and personal satisfaction, not a gender.

Both men and women balance work-life commitments, regardless of their other socio-economic and family status. Both men and women need to have a strong network, including not only peers, but coaches and mentors, as appropriate for the different stages of their careers. Both men and women need to embrace challenges and change, focus on what is important to them, and be authentic to themselves in the workplace.

It was very clear from the outset of this initiative in Atlanta that Women in Pharma is a key program that ISPE will continue to support and those who have taken the leadership role have expanded this program beyond any of my expectations. I am in awe of the breath and depth of the current program. It has grown every year with the support of the ISPE Board, the ISPE Staff, the Women in Pharma Leadership Team and many volunteers. It was my pleasure and honor to have been involved at the ground floor and I am proud to be a woman in pharma.

Want to get involved with the Women in Pharma® at ISPE? Check out the 24 Hours with Women in Pharma® Event 27 – 28 October. This event features a total of 15 virtual sessions including Mentor Circles, Book Clubs, and Crucial Conversations, which offer a unique opportunity for small groups of women to discuss difficult situations in a confidential, comfortable environment. Sessions are scheduled at various times to accommodate participants from all time zones. Learn more and register soon – space is limited!

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