A special thing happened this week at Phacilitate’s Cell and Gene Therapy World: W.O.M.E.N. in Advanced Therapies launched.
The virtual group is the result of conversations begun more than a year ago with like-minded individuals who want to give women the tools they need to succeed in an industry – like many – where there is a dearth of women in leadership positions. In fact, the seeds of W.O.M.E.N. can be found in the impetus for this article, by Michael Adeniya from Phacilitate, which features accomplished female leaders in the cell and gene therapy industry, several of whom were in the room for the kickoff.
(I’m going to digress for a moment as I came across an interesting post while doing research for this one. Ricki Lewis, a scientist and blogger, read the article (above) about women leaders in cell and gene therapy and it “bugged” her. As she – and others – have previously stated, a “great female anything is a not so subtle insult.” While I found her Playing the Woman Card in Cell and Gene Therapy to be a compelling read, I think that until we have gender parity in “best of lists,” reminding people that there are great women who get overlooked on those lists is important. Case in point: this list from 2013 that features eight women and 42 men. By the way, two of those women also made Phacilitate’s top 15 list.)
Back to the launch. W.O.M.E.N., which stands for “women offering mentoring, education and networking,” has a mission to do just that. Judging from the enthusiasm and appreciation at the launch, there is clearly an appetite for a group such as this.
Women at all skills levels and from any background, whether they are scientists, lawyers or marketers, are welcome to join if they work in advanced therapies. The group is encouraging women to register now as members (free for the next year) and as mentors or mentees. Applications are due by March 15, 2017.
If you are on the fence and wondering what you will gain from participating, W.O.M.E.N. promises the following:
- Access to influential women entrepreneurs and bioscience industry leaders
- Far-reaching networking and relationship building
- Targeted community-service involvement
- Professional development
- Volunteer opportunities to promote leadership skills
Already, groups like Phacilitate and ARM have offered space for networking at upcoming conferences and other groups have been coming forward as potential partners. The possibilities of this becoming a global initiative are easy to imagine, but mentoring can already happen from anywhere as mentors and mentees will communicate by telephone or Skype. Face-to-face meetings are ideal, but not required.
Before you attend that first W.O.M.E.N. in Advanced Therapies networking event, watch Christopher Barrat below as he shares some networking advice, with specific tips beginning at 3:30.
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