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Women Who Lead in Life Sciences

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending the San Francisco Business Times’ Women Who Lead in Life Sciences after a two-year hiatus. The annual event, which occurs during Women’s History Month, celebrates women in top roles in the Life Science/Biotech space and explores their journeys to get there.

Moderated by San Francisco Business Times' biotech reporter, Ron Leuty - who did an excellent job asking relevant questions and fostering a comfortable speaking arena for the panelists - the event was broken into two parts.

The event kicked off with a discussion led by Sarah Kenkare-Mitra, President and Head of R&D at Alector and concluded with an inspiring panel discussion including six female leaders in the Life Science space.

Here are my key takeaways from the discussions that were had:

  1. Build your "tribe" - it can be comprised of men, women, peers, colleagues and/or mentors - anyone you trust to offer an unbiased perspective of you as a professional. Allow their input to aid in your career advancement and be sure to provide that same level of support for other members in your tribe – especially when it comes to advocating for other women.
  2. When you hear or see something inappropriate against other women, speak up! Immediately make other people aware of the situation. No need to label the interaction as right or wrong, the intention is to bring attention to it.
  3. Women can do it all – we can have a successful career and a family. Lean into the support of your employer, colleagues, and family, their help is important. There are many different paths you can take that lead to a successful career. It is OK to put family first and pause or pivot in your career. Do what feels right to you!
  4. The world has certainly evolved over time and microaggressions against women these days often tend to be more subtle, but they are still prevalent. Women constantly have to thread the needle in the professional environment – constantly questioning if we're being friendly enough without being too friendly - confident without being cocky. Turn those weaknesses into your strengths, your superpowers.
  5. There are ways to improve diversity within our organizations and open more opportunities for women. Ideas that were mentioned during the event were to:

    - Create a pipeline of next generation female leaders and commit to investing in their growth.

    - Open up your doors to the community. Align your business objective with diversity and support organizations with similar diversity goals.

    - Invest in Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and lead by example. It is pertinent that senior leadership gets involved and shows up.

Newfront prides itself on fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace and providing allyship via our Employee Resource Groups -through which we are creating an inclusive space that ensures all individuals are seen and heard. Newfront’s women’s ERG, NewHer, aims to ensure that all women feel empowered within Newfront and focuses on championing women throughout the company.

You can learn more about Newfront's Employee Resource Groups and DE&I efforts here.


Dana George

About the author

Dana George

Vice President, Life Science Leader

Dana has extensive experience with structuring programs, negotiating coverage terms and pricing, and developing team service strategies to meet clients’ needs.


The information provided is of a general nature and an educational resource. It is not intended to provide advice or address the situation of any particular individual or entity. Any recipient shall be responsible for the use to which it puts this document. Newfront shall have no liability for the information provided. While care has been taken to produce this document, Newfront does not warrant, represent or guarantee the completeness, accuracy, adequacy, or fitness with respect to the information contained in this document. The information provided does not reflect new circumstances, or additional regulatory and legal changes. The issues addressed may have legal, financial, and health implications, and we recommend you speak to your legal, financial, and health advisors before acting on any of the information provided.

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