On International Women’s Day 2021 we’d like to take the time to recognize successes of women around the world as well as to candidly address the work that still needs to be done. Accomplishments have been made and paths have been forged in the acknowledgment of women’s capabilities, but there remains a journey which requires education and action to forge a path of integration and equity.
In more recent times we have begun to see a shift of women beginning to emerge in positions of influence. Most notably in the political arena, Kamala Harris was elected as the first female vice president in the United States. The pharmaceutical industry has seen female executives playing vital leadership roles in some of the most important global companies shaping the future of biotechnology. This group includes Heather Bresch, who is the first woman to run a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company (Mylan), Angela Hwang, the Group President of the Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals Group and Pia D’Urbano, the Corporate Vice President of Biopharmaceuticals for Novo Nordisk to name a few. Yet with women making up approximately half of the population, they are typically under represented in prominent positions of power.
We continue to see disparities in many areas, however. This is true when it comes to equal and commensurate pay for females who are doing similar work to their male counterparts. According to the American Association Of University Women (AAUW) women make 86% of what men do. This can correlate to $80,000 to $900,000 over the course of a 40-year career. Data shows that the gender pay gap has begun to shrink, but only in incremental amounts each year and it is wider for women of color, trangender women, women in executive level roles, women in certain occupations and industries.
There also exists a lack of representation of women in clinical research participation. This has been noted to possibly have been due to the unsubstantiated belief that fluctuations in female hormones would make women difficult to suty and concerns surrounding women of childberaring age in clinical trials.The National Center for Biotechnology Information notes this under representation has consequences in treatment, diagnosis of disease as well as in morbidity and mortality in women.
Knowing that the issue exists, what can be done to address it?
- Explore the issue. Whether you are male or female, it is important to know the facts about the barriers which exist related to gender inequality in order to know why action needs to be taken.
- Test yourself. Be willing to evaluate if you aren’t aware of innate bias you yourself may have against women leaders.
- Know the law. Again whether an employer or employee who might not be receiving equitable compensation, know your rights and familiarize yourself with. Start by familiarizing yourself with The Equal Pay Act (EPA) amended the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
- Take action. Have two minutes? Send emails and texts to your legislators to fight for equal pay, family leave, stopping sexual harassment, equality in education and more.
Partner. Get involved with advocacy groups toward a shared vision of equal opportunity among women and men toward a goal of making gender equality a reality.