By Bachem AG
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Bachem enlists female perspectives for International Women’s Day 2023
Bubendorf, Switzerland: – To mark International Women’s Day 2023 on March 5, peptide and oligonucleotide specialist Bachem AG took the chance to sit down with some of its female leaders to discuss their views on how leading life sciences companies can tap into the potential of women in the “STEM” fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
They also offered advice for young women looking to make a career in the life sciences.
Bachem has endorsed the ‘Embrace Equity’ IWD theme for 2023, recognizing that while equity and equality are often used interchangeably, they are inherently different concepts, with equality calling for each individual or group to be treated the same. In contrast, equity recognizes that different groups may need to be allocated varying resources and opportunities to reach an equitable and fair outcome.
Thus, with women significantly underrepresented in science and technology (under a quarter of those working in STEM fields in the USA, for example), extra measures are required to overcome systemic barriers such as intrinsic psychological factors, external environmental variables, existing attitudes, family factors and lack of mentorship opportunities (see Resources).
Bachem has committed to increasing the proportion of women in its workforce, upper management and regional executive committees by at least 10 per cent by 2026, compared with 2020 levels.
Its Human Resources team works to attract and retain women for science-based professions and in management positions. Bachem also supports initiatives to promote science-based professions to young women.
For IWD 2023, Bachem spoke to five women working in different roles in various parts of the world.
From Bachem Americas, Supply Chain VP Divina Peralta regarded equity as creating an inclusive workplace where everyone can succeed regardless of their background. “I believe that promoting equity is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also critical for the success of our company to retain and attract top talents, including women and other underrepresented groups,” said Divina Peralta.
Vice President of Bachem’s Global Marketing Department, Manuela Schneider-Höfferer had a slightly different take on the equity question, commenting: “Development is really critical. You can always get the best out of people, but to make them believe that the best is in them and bring them to the right place. I am a strong believer that if people really want, have the will to be successful and to contribute, that you can always find a perfect position for them. But this is a part of the development program.”
For all the women interviewed, recognizing and celebrating diversity was key to tapping into the potential of women in STEM fields.
Julie Marley, Site Manager for the Bachem Centre of Excellence for the production of Research Chemicals at St. Helens, UK, said: “We have to value diversity and acknowledge and celebrate the differences between men and women in the workplace. For women with children, a more flexible approach to returning to the workplace is required to ensure a return on the investment made into developing their skills and experience over many years. If we chose not to follow this approach many women may choose alternative career paths outside of STEM…or another employer within STEM!”
Divina Peralta thought it vital for companies like Bachem to “actively work to create an inclusive workplace culture that values diversity and provides opportunities for career growth and development for women. This includes building internal employee resource groups for career networking, offering mentorship programs, and promoting the visibility of successful women in leadership positions.”
From Japan, Sales Manager for Bachem Generics in APAC, Aya Ito commented: “It would be nice if a company can offer a comfortable and flexible working environment to its employees, although such is not good only for women. It would be ideal if anyone can continue to work at any stage of life in a flexible working environment (place, hours, conditions, etc.), or if they can even take a long time off if needed.”
The power of networking
There was a remarkable degree of consensus among the female leaders about what they most enjoyed about the work at Bachem, with most of them emphasizing team working and collaboration.
For example, Karin Wertz, head of the PMD II team working in shifts to purify peptides at scale using preparative chromatography said the element she most valued was her colleagues as “a lot of honest, hard-working people working together as a team – and the license to have a positive impact for the company.”
Dr. Wertz also had clear and concise advice for women seeking to further their careers in any field, not just STEM: “My advice to women who want to make a career is a general one: First, Perform. Second, Claim your space, and third, Network.”
In a similar vein, Manuela Schneider’s advice was: “Be brave, to speak up and not to give up, try to get projects where you can show what your potential is, get on stage and build a strong network.”
The individual challenge facing any woman in life sciences was most passionately voiced by Julie Marley, who said:
“Follow your dreams, be true to yourself, and know that slowly but surely the world is changing for the better for women, particularly in the STEM field. You can contribute to this change and achieve everything you want (and more) with determination, a positive attitude and hard work.”
Bachem is a leading, innovation-driven company specializing in the development and manufacture of peptides and oligonucleotides. The company, which has over 50 years of experience and expertise, provides products for research, clinical development, and commercial application to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies worldwide and offers a comprehensive range of services.
Bachem operates internationally with headquarters in Switzerland and locations in Europe, the US and Asia. The company is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange.
For further information, see www.bachem.com.
Click on Leadership Perspectives: Embracing Equity on International Women’s Day to read the full interviews.
Click on US Department of Commerce: Women in STEM Update for background information.
Click on International Journal of STEM Education: Factors influencing participation of underrepresented students in STEM fields: matched mentors and mindsets (2020) for research study.
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