Empowering Women in Biotech: a day of insight and inspiration

Empowering Women in Biotech: a day of insight and inspiration

Published on 21/04/2023
Empowering Women in Biotech: a day of insight and inspiration

The first-ever Empowering Women in Biotech event saw Charnwood Molecular’s premises filled with a sell-out crowd of more than 80 attendees, ready for a day of discussion, networking and sharing stories.

The agenda was packed with opportunities for women in the industry to share their expertise, celebrate their achievements and vent their frustrations, as well as highlighting how to help others achieve their potential.

Kicking the day off with a presentation, Life Sciences and Innovation in the Region by Charnwood Campus’s Marketing and Commercial Director​, Gosia Khrais, highlighted how women were shaping the sector in Leicestershire, with nearly 27% of directors in the LLEP being female compared to just 10% globally. However, with over 50% of the total workforce in the area being women, it was acknowledged that there was a long way to go to achieve equity in leadership roles, which would require support and encouragement from the entire business community. This topic was an area that would then be discussed in more detail in the subsequent discussions and networking sessions.

The first panel, Female Powerhouse Establishment: How to get there and be successful, touched on a few key points, including what the Female Powerhouse meant to the panel members, the necessity of events which empower women, and any advice that would be beneficial to the men in their teams to help advocate for women. The main takeaways were to shine a light on and create space for others, call out prejudiced attitudes and challenge stereotypes where they exist, the importance of giving women a safe space to share their experiences, utilising networks that can support women in their careers and the need to grow the pool of female candidates at every level to ensure women are represented.

Next on the agenda was a very lively speed networking session, covering topics from health and wellbeing in the workplace and balancing career and family life to how women apply for jobs and the importance of a diverse workplace. Some revealing experiences were shared and excellent points made, including the importance of making provision for and supporting returning mothers, removing sexist bias from the recruitment process, ensuring employees are listened to when implementing workplace processes and consulting the right people about engaging effectively with different demographics. There was even a great discussion about sexist assumptions in female fashion triggered by a complaint about too-small trouser pockets!

With the world put to rights, the conversation moved on to the next panel, Early-Stage Researchers & Founders: Overcoming challenges and preparing for the future. Some great insights were shared, and panellists were asked a range of questions, including what drove them to set up a company, any assumptions they had about the role of founder, the best piece of advice they were given and what they would tell their younger selves. The key points from the discussion encompassed the importance of support from other founders and other people to bounce ideas off, the need to overcome imposter syndrome and the fear of speaking up, focusing on the good rather than the mistakes, having confidence and self-belief, knowing your worth and taking things one step at a time.

The final panel session of the day focused on the topic of Unlocking Investment Opportunities: The do’s & don’ts, how, when & where, which provided some valuable insights into the world of venture capital. The conversation centred around the funding environment and what that is like as a female founder, as well as rookie mistakes and how to avoid them. It was especially interesting to get insights from both sides of the process, with key messages including using your network to get introductions to investors and building those investor relationships as early in the process as possible, making sure the team behind the idea is the strongest part of any pitch, not being afraid to be ambitious, having an end goal in mind and a path to it, and appreciating that the funding landscape is changing, necessitating the need to do a lot more with a lot less for a lot longer than in the past.

Commenting on a successful first conference, Bionow’s Executive Director Business Development, Stella James, said: “I am absolutely thrilled at the turnout and enthusiasm of the delegates, everyone threw themselves into the day and there were some fantastic points made. It shows how vital events like these are to allow women to have frank and meaningful conversations amongst their peers and discuss the issues that are important to them. We aim to build on this event’s achievements and make this a regular fixture on the Bionow calendar.”

Empowering Women in Biotech is partnered with Charnwood Molecular, Charnwood Campus, IBioIC, Potter Clarkson, SynBioBeta and Women in Synthetic Biology.

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