News and Announcements

Industry Trends Suggest Retaining Top Female Talent is Crucial to Bioscience

NEW YORK—According to Catalyst's latest study, Checking the Pulse of Women in Bioscience: What Organizations Need to Know, bioscience organizations are at risk of losing top female talent which could negatively impact their success. The study features insights about emerging industry trends from experts in healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and academic medicine. The experts surveyed for this study emphasize how crucial it is for the bioscience industry to retain and advance talented women.
Trends identified in this report include: the rapid development of new technologies and medicines, especially in emerging economies; increasing pressure on governments to tighten healthcare budgets and regulations; greater investment in scientific research and higher education; the loss of younger scientists from the field; rapidly aging populations with ever-growing healthcare needs; and the challenge of balancing organizational priorities with meeting the career expectations of younger employees.
Because studies show that women make most household health care decisions and are earning advanced degrees at a greater rate than men in certain science sectors, their industry-wide underrepresentation in bioscience leadership roles presents a challenge for forward-looking organizations. More than half of the women we surveyed plan to leave their current company for a comparable company within the next six years; 75 percent plan to leave in the next ten years. Organizations that lose female talent stand to lose valuable insights and opportunities as well.
“The bioscience industry affects everyone in the world,” said Ilene H. Lang, President & Chief Executive Officer of Catalyst. “Losing talented women could negatively impact crucial research and health care decisions in the future. As industry shifts redefine what it takes to maintain a competitive advantage, smart organizations will implement strategies to attract and retain top talent.”
This research study reveals that women in the biosciences are determined to succeed but uncertain how to advance within their companies. Although 85% of the women surveyed were satisfied with their current employer and 94% were dedicated to making their organization successful:

  • From their first jobs and throughout their careers, women encounter significant gaps in salaries and promotions—despite the fact that they are now earning bioscience degrees in greater numbers than men.
  • The pay gap increases at higher levels of management.
  • Only 55% of women surveyed understand how their company identifies talent, which is crucial to career advancement.
  • Only 18% of pipeline women and 35% of senior women believe their managers keep them in the loop about new opportunities within their organizations.
  • Because there are too few female role models, sponsors and mentors in leadership positions, companies risk losing high-potential women to competitors.

Based on our findings, Catalyst recommends that companies wishing to maximize their success by retaining top female talent consider the following approaches:

  • Increase capacity. Managers and senior leaders need to be conscious of pay and promotion gaps, distribution of high-level assignments and access to career development programs. They should be trained to communicate regularly and effectively with direct reports.
  • Actively support relationship building. Employee surveys, internal resource groups and networking events are effective tools for fostering relationship-building between pipeline women and senior executives.
  • Hold managers and senior executives accountable. Performance goals and/or compensation rates should be included in direct reports' career development plans. Senior leaders and their teams should be held responsible for meeting diversity and inclusion targets.
  • Establish effective sponsorship and/or coaching opportunities. Metrics for evaluating the effectiveness of sponsorship/coaching programs must be developed and sponsors must be held accountable for creating career pathways for the high-potential employees they sponsor—especially when those employees are women.

Johnson & Johnson was the Lead Sponsor for this report; Pfizer Inc. and The Karen Katen Foundation were Participating Sponsors; Genentech, Inc. was a Contributing Sponsor; and American Express Company, BMO Financial Group, Chevron Corporation, Credit Suisse, Deloitte LLP, Desjardins Group, Deutsche Bank AG, Ernst & Young LLP, Hewlett-Packard Company, IBM Corporation, KeyBank, McDonald’s Corporation, and UPS were Research Partners.
Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit membership organization expanding opportunities for women and business. With offices in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and more than 400 preeminent corporations as members, Catalyst is the trusted resource for research, information, and advice about women at work. Catalyst annually honors exemplary organizational initiatives that promote women’s advancement with the Catalyst Award.