BIO 2016: BIO’s 2016 “Imagine” Convention was a WIB Reality

Women In Bio attended the 2016 BIO International Convention in San Francisco and made some big waves with powerful statements and initiatives! Our presence is growing and every year there are more faces we recognize and more awareness of our organization and the great strides we are making towards encouraging and supporting women in the life sciences.

We kicked off the Convention with our second annual Roundtable Discussion where over 40 women leaders in the life sciences sector came together to discuss women in the industry and the glass ceiling that prevents talented women from obtaining C-suite and Boardroom positions. One of our overarching goals is to increase the number of women on Boards and the attendees, all industry veterans, helped shed some light on why only 10% of companies have female representation on their Boards and what we can do to improve that statistic. John McDonald, Vice President of Business Development at Biogen moderated the panel, which included Deb Bowes, Founder of Chevy Chase BioPartners and Gail Maderis, President and CEO of Antiva Biosciences.

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The Roundtable Discussion was followed by our annual WIB Plenary Event on Monday, June 6, 2016, where a panel of influential women leaders discussed topics such as how to brand yourself as a woman in a male-dominated industry, the importance of side hustles, and how to close the gender gap. The panel engaged the audience to ask questions and address how we can all work together to support women in the life sciences. The panel was moderated by Nicole Fisher, Founder and CEO of HHR Strategies and a Forbes Contributor, and the speakers included Renee Compton Ryan, VP of Venture Investments at Johnson & Johnson, and Frances Colón, Deputy Science and Technology Adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry.

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WIB had a booth on the Exhibit floor where over 20 WIB volunteers from our 13 chapter locations greeted and interacted with attendees.

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On Tuesday, WIB hosted the “San Francisco Bay Area Chapter” Meet-Up. Over 45 women had the opportunity to meet and network with other convention attendees.

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WIB leaders Kristi Sarno, Jamie Strachota, and Dawn Hocevar were interviewed by GenomeAlberta regarding the launch of our “Boardroom Ready” program and why it is important for companies to have female representation at the C-suite and Board levels. The full interview can be found here:

WIB also participated in a panel discussion at the MassBio booth titled, “Ensuring Inclusion: Industry Efforts to Improve Gender Diversity.” The panel discussed new initiatives to ensure women have equal access throughout the industry, including Women In Bio’s Boardroom Ready Program. The panelists included: Jodie Morrison, President & CEO, Tokai Pharmaceuticals; Dawn Hocevar, Vice President of National Business Development, Biosurplus and Interim President- Elect,Women In Bio; Michael Rice, Founding Partner, LifeSci Advisors; John McDonald, Vice President of Corporate Development and Strategy, Biogen; Karen Bernstein, Co-Founder & Chairman, BioCentury; and moderator Simone Fishburn, Editor, BioCentury Innovations.

Watch the video of the event here!

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WIB’s Boardroom Ready program was officially launched at BIO this year. With support from LifeSci Advisors, Biogen and the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, we launched the program, to be held at George Washington University and designed to prepare women for positions on biotech corporate boards. We are currently seeking men and women to serve as coaches, sponsors for follow-up events, and applicants. An analysis found that only 8% of board seats and 26% of leadership positions at 31 emerging biotech startups were held by women, and just 10% of independent biotech venture capital firm partners and 18% of partners at corporate firms are female. These numbers are the reason WIB created the Boardroom Ready program, and we are excited to start such a great initiative.

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On Wednesday, WIB hosted our second Meet-Up, “Speed Networking Session for Existing and Prospective WIB members.” Like speed dating, we lined up our attendees and for 2 minutes of discussion before switching them to the next person. Thank you to all that participated!

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On Thursday, the final day of BIO, WIB hosted a panel entitled, “One Last Pitch,” where women representatives from fundraising companies presented a six-minute pitch to investment firms. The panel of female investors provided feedback to the presenting companies, and the audience also had a chance to vote for their favorite pitch. Thank you to BioProcess International for allowing us to present at the BPI Theatre.

Every year we reflect on the success of the Convention and would like to thank BIO for their support of WIB. A special thanks to Erin Lee of BIO for all of her help. Thanks to our volunteers for their hard work and dedication to encouraging and supporting women in the life sciences. So much progress has been made, is being made, and will be made all because of the passion and drive of our volunteers bring to our organization, and ultimately to the advancement of women in the life sciences. It’s because of you that forward movement is made. Thank you….

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