iSpeak Blog

Inaugural Women in Pharma Event for ISPE San Francisco Bay Area Chapter

Nadia Thorius
Inaugural Women in Pharma Event

Bay Area leaders started to break the glass ceiling at Berkeley City Club. On the Annual International Worker's Day, May 1st, the ISPE San Francisco | Bay Area Program Committee had the pleasure of hosting its' first Women in Pharma® (WIP) event. The sold-out event was held at the Berkeley City Club, also known as the "Little Castle" which was built in 1927 to honor the need for a women's activity center. In these historic rooms, ISPE had over 80 attendees (both men!!! and women) to join an exciting debate and panelist discussion, led by six strong women, all from leadership positions in the Bay Area, on how to unite and break the glass ceiling.


The role model panelists included:

  • Anamica Srinivasaragavan - Global Category Manager for Capital Spend at BioMarin
  • Andrea Karlsson - Director of Capital Projects and Portfolio Management at Boehringer Ingleheim
  • Janet Wendorf - Associate Director of Qualification Engineering at Bayer Pharmaceuticals
  • Kathy Yi - CFO at Sangamo Therapeutics
  • Lillian Chung - Business Development Lead at XL Construction
  • Tasha Tenurier - Packaging Engineering/Program Manager at Google HW (IntelliPro)

Take-ways included a great quote and some answered questions:

"We shape our buildings, and afterwards, our buildings shape us"

So, why are there not more females in engineering? It all starts early in breaking the stereotypes. There are low female graduation rates due to a lack of female engineering role models, and misconceptions on what it is like to be an engineer. One topic about "Unconscious bias" gained a lot of interest during the evening. It was raised that female leaders, in particular, can be affected by a double-blind bias or the problem of a mismatch between what is expected of a leader, and what is expected from a woman. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Too soft. Too tough. Never just right! And expressions like "She is such a bulldog" can be perceived in a negative for a women - while if it is a man that is a bulldog - then it might be a positive attribute.

Light at the end of the tunnel?

So, is there any hope for the future generations? The panelists were all hopeful, however it is important that we don't stand still and as Andrea Karlsson noted "having role models means a lot in your development". At the same time we all need to be self-aware and establish diverse teams. Kathy Yi from Sangamo Therapeutics highlighted that diverse teams are performing better. Janet Wendorf from Bayer noted that she has seen more female junior engineers get involved in Bayer's own 'Women in Technology' program and it is great to see their passion. "It gives me hope that there are more young people in technology. That gives me hope to see more women at a higher level and that they are ready to speak-up when there is a bias".

It is hopefully not the last time that the ISPE San Francisco | Bay Area Chapter is hosting a Women in Pharma Event. As Kathy Yi mentioned "It would be wonderful if this room can be double the size in two years". Let's help each other to make that happen and get involved in Women in Pharma, men are welcome also! Women will never solve a leadership problem alone, everyone needs to be involved.

Thank you to our sponsors for making the event possible:

  • GL Planning and Design
  • Pharmatech
  • Delta PM
  • Turner
  • PSC Partners
  • NNE