The Big Pharma gender conundrum

The pharmaceutical industry is championing women in its workforce - but is failing to get them into the C-suite. MT talks to Clare Grace, chief patient officer at clinical research organisation Parexel, on how to break down barriers.

by Éilis Cronin
Clare Grace

If you’re looking for an industry with a majority female workforce, then look no further than pharmaceuticals. Around 61% of the workforce is female - considerably higher than many other sectors. However, when you get to senior leadership level, this number plummets.

According to data from Mantell Associates, less than 10% of CEOs in the biopharma industry are women, and women make up only 25% of leadership teams in the overall pharmaceutical space. These figures highlight some serious barriers to career progression and development for women, especially those looking to enter the C-suite space.

Having it all

Clare Grace, chief patient officer at global clinical research organisation Parexel, says the pharmaceutical industry tends to attract a high proportion of women because it is a sector that requires staff to have empathy for patients - something that, if you believe the stereotypes, is meant to come more naturally to women. 

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