Life sciences investor Lisa Suennen and co-founder Lisa Serwin have developed a nonprofit networking program called CSweetener in an effort to help close the gender gap in biotech leadership by matching future female executives with mentors who have C-suite experience. It's part of a growing effort to position women for leadership roles in the industry, including Women In Bio's Boardroom Ready program, which has already trained 20 women and had four placed on boards.
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Neuroscientist and designer Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya wants to make the contributions of women in science, including 16 Nobel Prize winners, more visible through her online illustration project celebrating 32 women in STEM fields and their achievements. "We need to show everyone that our world was built by brilliant women, not just by men, and by people of all backgrounds," says Phingbodhipakkiya, who has also made her work available in the form of downloadable posters.
Stanford University chemist Carolyn Bertozzi is leading research to explore ways in which cell-surface sugars allow cancer cells to escape immune detection and how these sugars might be manipulated via immune therapies to prompt the body's cancer-fighting response. Bertozzi has been studying these sugars, called sialic acids, since the late 1990s, and in 2014, her team established a cause-and-effect relationship between concentration of sialic acids and immune cell response, laying the groundwork for a new way of thinking about immunotherapy.
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Experts and researchers agree that pregnant women and fetuses benefit when the women regularly exercise, which can help prevent excessive weight gain during pregnancy and complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Experts, writing in a viewpoint published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, said that moderation is the goal and cautioned against certain more vigorous exercises that may not be safe for pregnant women.
Though female life scientists may outperform male colleagues in some areas during the early stages of their careers, they are less likely to get credit for their work and face other barriers that slow or stall their career progression, leaving women underrepresented at the top of their fields, according to recent studies. Women are less likely to transition to prestigious last-author spots on papers, publish in journals with the highest impact or receive funding that transitions them to the level of senior scientist, and women who become senior scientists do so on average a year later than their male counterparts.
Women working in predominantly male environments may feel uncomfortable or intimidated and frequently receive so-called advice to "focus on being a mom," and other sexist statements, according to Jan Plutzer, chief operating officer at Apcera. To thrive in these settings, she offers women the following advice: be genuine and don't feel the need to act like a man, exude confidence, adopt an optimistic leadership style, and give back by advocating for other women who are on the way up.
The gender gap in venture funding has grown wider over the past year, according to PitchBook. In 2016, venture capitalists funded 5,839 companies founded by men and 359 founded by women, and women received $4.5 million in average investment, compared with $10.9 million for the men.
Women don't need to adopt all the communication styles of men or use only one style, but it's clear that they face higher expectations, or what Andrea Kramer and Alton Harris call the "Goldilocks dilemma." "Because workplaces are so suffused with gender bias, women need to have both a forceful, decisive style and an inclusive style -- and probably many others -- at the ready," they write.
Girls represent half of the enrollment in high-school math and science classes and perform as well on standardized tests, yet women are still underrepresented in STEM fields in college and in the workplace. Eugene Chou, who pursued teaching after earning a master's degree in industrial engineering, actively recruits middle-school girls for her three-year program preparing students for engineering careers, while Carol Tang of the California Girls in STEM Collaborative says mentors are critical to increasing the number of women in STEM.