March / April 2024

Women in Pharma® Editorial: Women’s Participation in the Pharmaceutical Industry in Mexico

Fatima Jacoba Mancilla Islas
Women in Pharma® Editorial - Fatima Jacoba Mancilla Islas

Over time and with effort and determination, women in key leadership positions have proven that these positions are genderless for individuals with the correct set of abilities and knowledge.

Although equity and diversity are promoted in companies, barriers still exist related to obsolete prejudices that prevent progress in the equal development of women. Professional growth must be increased and promoted on equity, diversity, and integration, which directly impact and help develop good performance. We must continue to strengthen and incorporate the efforts so far as part of our daily organizational strategy.

Achieving Gender Parity

In Mexico’s pharmaceutical industry, 46.5% of personnel are women,1  which could be considered a high percentage. However, only an average of 38% of women occupy key leadership positions in industry,2  including the pharmaceutical industry. Although it was a 3% increase from 2017 (35%) to 2020, it is a small increase. These statistics represent a challenge to achieve gender parity, not only in the pharmaceutical industry, but in all economic sec-tors.

To accelerate women’s participation, it is necessary to promote programs in companies for empowerment. To accomplish this, it is necessary to de-velop and promote different initiatives within industry and at a cultural level. Mexico is well-known for maintaining stereotypes and granting superiority to the masculine identity and the attitude that men “should have” over women. Although some think that this view has decreased, obstacles persist. The following would help address this issue:

  • Stimulate high aspirations in childhood and encourage professions that are not specific to a gender. Allow girls to explore health science careers so they can aspire to be scientists, engineers, and other professionals within the pharmaceutical industry.
  • A strong foundation of support offered at a younger age will likely increase the number of women in careers related to STEM, which all relate directly to the pharmaceutical industry. In Mexico, currently 14% of STEM graduates are women. In addition, leadership and preparation for a competitive professional life must be reinforced.
  • The push for equal representation must continue. Although there has been a 3% increase of women´s representation in key positions the objective should not only be to reach equal representation, but to maintain it. This can be made possible if policies and strategies focused on equity are developed.

Considering that women only occupy 38% of these key positions, their influence on decision-making at the management level is limited and the value that women’s leadership brings is not fully considered. The inclusion of women broadens the contribution of ideas to establish strategies for improvement and problem resolution.

Women in Leadership Positions

Increasing women’s participation in executive leadership positions in the pharmaceutical industry can be managed from different points. Companies should create egalitarian policies to include and develop both men and women, in such a way that the same job opportunities are created in salaries, hiring, and representation in corresponding levels. These policies should involve general management, operational directors, and all company leaders so that the policies are created in an integral way.

A second goal is to implement programs for professional growth, such as mentoring and sponsorship programs. These can be created within companies, by associations related to the pharmaceutical industry, and within universities. Sponsor programs (such as the ISPE Mentor program) pair an experienced person with a new learner to strengthen the learner’s skills and abilities.

Professional growth programs directly involve and develop newer generations within the pharmaceutical industry and support the development of more egalitarian policies, which helps establish more women in executive leadership positions. These actions will reduce the discrepancy because when women fill leadership roles, they serve as examples of equity and promote inclusion and diversity.

Learn More About Women in Pharma®

  • 1National System of Statistical and Geographical Information. “Economic Censuses 2019.” Last update 16 July 2020.
  • 2Bolio, E., L. De Urioste, V. Ibarra, G. Garza, and M. Renteria. “Women Matter México 2022: Uneven Parity.” McKinsey & Company. Published 13 October 2022.