- The biopharma sector had just three representatives on Fortune's latest Most Powerful Women list, highlighting the continued lack of gender diversity within drug manufacturing companies — particularly at the highest levels.
- Johnson & Johnson's Group Worldwide Chair Sandra Peterson and Company Group Chairman Jennifer Taubert clocked in at the 22 and 43 spots, respectively, while Mylan N.V.'s CEO Heather Bresch ranked 23rd. Notably, Emma Walsmley, who became the first female to take the helm of a major drug company when she assumed the CEO role at GlaxoSmithKline plc earlier this year, was not on the list.
- Fortune crafted the list based on four criteria: " the size and importance of the woman's business in the global economy, the health and direction of the business, the arc of the woman's career (resume and runway ahead), and social and cultural influence," according to the company.
The pharmaceutical industry is better known for its big bottom lines than its wealth of female leaders. While drugmakers have made strides to create more diverse C-suites — especially among biotechs —there's still a long way to go.
Women, for instance, often exit the leadership pipeline much earlier than men, according to a report published Thursday by the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, or MassBio. The study, which surveyed roughly 900 people who were either employed in, looking for work in, or who recently left the life sciences sector, found that positions in engineering, IT and business development were more male-heavy while women had greater representation in research, legal, human resources and public relations. Those earlier positions, however, tend to offer a better path to executive-level jobs.
Though women make up about half the world's population, "[I]n business, we do not see the same relative gender representation reflected in the corporate ranks, with the participation of women diminishing as you progressively scale the senior levels," MassBio said in the report. "This suggests that companies are either leaving talent behind or keeping it out, either of which is a failure in leadership and a dereliction of responsibility on the part of boards and executive managers as custodians of the companies."
That disparity appears particularly troublesome for the pharmaceutical sector. Just looking at Fortune's latest list, the tech, financial services and retail/consumer goods industries all had more representation on the list than drugmakers.
Also hampering diversity in pharma is the corporate environment. Nearly half of the women surveyed by MassBio said they wouldn't join a company if its board and management board were all-male and their interviewer for the job in question was a man.
"Undoubtedly, much of what prevents the inclusion of women in senior office is attributable to the companies’ approaches to recruitment and retention, but individuals too must seek to participate in every way necessary to reach these positions of leadership," the MassBio report said.