As the world and the biotech industry celebrates International Women’s Day, the CGT Circle published its “Where are all the Women in Leadership?” survey and laid bare some shocking — but sadly not unexpected — statistics.

Millie Nelson, Editor

March 8, 2024

3 Min Read

The survey, led by female-focused community networking group The CGT Circle, highlighted barriers to career growth, discrimination, the challenges surrounding reporting incidents, common microaggressions, and of course, the gender pay gap.

With nearly 1,300 members in the CGT Circle community, the survey delved deep into what the work culture for women in the cell and gene therapy (CGT) sector is like. In the survey, 77% of women said they had faced some form of discrimination or microaggressions because of their race or gender.

Those who said they had experienced discrimination or microaggression then answered whether they had reported the incident. 45% of women said the reason they did not report the event was because they feared it would harm their career, 32% said they reported what happened but did not receive any support, and 29% said they did not flag what had happened because of their company’s culture.

Sitting at just under 80%, the most common microaggression experienced by those who completed the survey was “others taking credit for my ideas.” Additionally, 50% of women said they feel their judgement is questioned and they are typically assumed to hold a “more junior” position.

In terms of career growth, the survey exposed the impact company culture can have on professional progression. 58% reported culture in senior leadership as a barrier to career growth and 46% of women said they experienced a lack of role models within the company. Furthermore, 54% said they felt they could not grow in their career because of imposter syndrome.

On top of this, the survey showcased 47% of women are paid less than their male counterparts, raising concerns about the gender pay gap.

“There is a systematic oppression of women to varying degrees across all corners of society. This is why we need International Women’s Day. This is why we need to accelerate gender parity. This is why we need to inspire inclusion,” said Nicola Ambler, co-founder of the CGT Circle.

While the survey brings to the forefront some hard hitting and bleak statistics, it also offered the women who took part the opportunity to express the approaches they want to see to “fix” the issues.

“You have a six-point plan that has come directly from women of tangible things organizations can do to improve career progression, culture, and get more women into leadership roles. It is obviously, a multi-faceted issue and culture change doesn't happen quickly or easily, but this can inform your approach,” Ambler told us.

How do we fix this?

In response to the gender pay gap, 90% said they want to see equal pay commitment from employers. 83% of women wanted to see more females in leadership positions and 73% said they would benefit from having clear career progression pathways at work.

65% said it would help if managers were equipped with skills to be able to offer them support and 54% said they believe more flexible working options would be beneficial. Finally, 52% said de-bias hiring needs to come into play, including performance reviews and promotions.

“Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is male-dominated and there are simply fewer women in the field, so the imbalance begins there. However, this is a wider issue regarding education and encouraging girls and young women into STEM and keeping them there. Can we understand more about the attrition and at what point in women's careers this tends to happen? Is there a pattern, or something systematic that needs to be addressed?” Ambler said.

“[Additionally], STEM careers — certainly in the CGT field — are lucrative. They pay well and the prospects are good, so by having fewer women in CGT, the inequity perpetuates. Let's get more women into highly skilled and highly paid sectors and correct some of these imbalances!”

About the Author(s)

Millie Nelson

Editor, BioProcess Insider

Journalist covering global biopharmaceutical manufacturing and processing news and host of the Voices of Biotech podcast.

I am currently living and working in London but I grew up in Lincolnshire (UK) and studied in Newcastle (UK).

Got a story? Feel free to email me at [email protected]

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