UPDATE: LifeSci Advisors has apologized for the party which launched the controversy, FierceBiotech reports.
"We want to apologize to our female and male colleagues throughout the biotech and bioscience industries," the firm wrote in a statement published in BioCentury.
- Two female biotech execs have penned an open letter to the industry attacking some of the cocktail parties held around the JPMorgan healthcare conference, where "inappropriately clad women served as eye candy," according to report by Stat. Broader still, the execs lambaste the heavily male industry for continuing to discriminate against women.
- The letter has been widely distributed among the biopharma industry and has garnered several hundred signatures, which will be published on BioCentury.
- According to the letter, at one party hosted by LifeSci Advisors, young female models were brought in to mingle and accompany guests, mostly males.
Every year, the JP Morgan conference in San Francisco is a huge event. This year there were more than 9,000 people in attendance, among them many biopharma executives and industry professionals.
Written by Kate Bingham, a managing partner at SV Life Sciences Advisers, and Karen Bernstein, who is involved in health-related media, this letter has touched a nerve in the industry.
Ms. Bingham and Ms. Bernstein did not mince words. They wrote, "Are we still working with people who think of women as chattel? What compelling business rationale could there possibly be for that kind of entertainment?"
Bingham noted most of the problems are connected to parties hosted by service firms, in particular focusing on the party held by LifeSci Advisors.
The letter gives the biotech industry an opportunity to take a public stand on the issue. Biotech, like other industries, has struggled with equal male/female representation among executive leadership.