The biotech hub of Montréal will soon be home to a new chapter of the US-based Women In Bio (WIB), an organization dedicated to helping women in the life sciences advance in their careers.
The WIB-Greater Montréal Chapter is set to launch on November 14, with a kickoff event featuring a presentation from renowned serial entrepreneur Clarissa Desjardins, founder of Advanced Bioconcept and Caprion Pharmaceuticals. The original chapter of Women In Bio was established in 2002 in the Baltimore-Washington-Northern Virginia area to help women entrepreneurs and executives build successful bioscience-related businesses. Since then, the organization has expanded its focus to helping all women in the bioscience industry.
Its mission is to support leadership development and entrepreneurship of women in the life sciences, through various networking events, workshops and seminars across the chapters. WIB has chapters across the US, as well as in India, and is now extending its network to Canada.
Montréal was chosen as a chapter location for its strong life sciences industry, in both the private and public sectors. As a biotechnology hub, the Greater Montréal region offers numerous government support programs, a strong business and research infrastructure, as well as access to world-class research centres.
As such, the area was the perfect site for WIB’s Canadian debut. The organization is open to both male and female business professionals, entrepreneurs and scientists from the private sector, government institutions, and academia, as well as to students.
“You don’t have to be female to join,” says Carmela DeLuca, co-chair of the WIB-Greater Montréal Chapter. “The emphasis is on helping women develop, but we don’t mind males helping us develop these skills and provide support for women.”
Women in Bio also offers its members a number of resources, including access to a network of all WIB members, mentorship and collaboration opportunities, and learning about the latest developments in the pharma, biotech, and medical devices industries.
“The organization is focused on the development of women professionals in the life sciences including women entrepreneurs interested in starting businesses in the life sciences,” says DeLuca. “The organization aims to aid their professional development with access to seminars, provide networking opportunities, and other supports for promoting careers of women in the life sciences.”
DeLuca and her co-chair Marilyn Krelenbaum, along with a group of women from diverse bio backgrounds in both industry and academia, are setting up the new chapter. Their aim is to bring together women from across Québec, to create a forum for developing career-building skills and the entrepreneurial spirit needed to advance to senior management positions or to start a business. Both are areas where traditionally, there has been a lack of women.
“I think that particularly for (female) entrepreneurs, there’s a lack of both of role models, because there aren’t a lot of women who have taken that path, and a lack of support and perhaps skills,” says DeLuca. “The organization hopes to help identify role models and provide avenues for developing some of these skills through webinars and various other formats, and provide opportunities for women to network and develop skills that for one reason or another they may be lacking.”
Along with overcoming career barriers and developing the softer skills needed for leadership, the chapter will offer a variety of local events, webinars, and workshops for networking and mentoring. There will also be resources for young women just starting their careers.
“We’d like to have programming for young women who are graduating and looking to enter the workforce,” says DeLuca. “Because that’s a very daunting time in people’s lives, when they graduate and don’t know what to do.”
To this aim, DeLuca is excited for the chapter’s launch, and the opportunity to bring together women from various career stages and sectors.
“I’m excited at the opportunity of meeting women working in diverse life science fields, and bringing them together to provide unique networking opportunities, but also so that their collective skill can benefit people who are entering life science professions,” says DeLuca. “Recognizing women who have succeeded and celebrating role models is very important – for young professionals seeing that there are women who have gone before them and succeeded, while being able to benefit from their expertise – will be a good experience for the mentee and women in the profession in general.”
“We have also had great interest from the life science community and are happy to have Corealis Pharma as an event sponsor as well as the McGill Centre for Biomedical Innovation (MCBI), Bereskin & Parr LLP, Bellus Health, Thallion Pharmaceuticals and Faskens Martineau LLP support us as founding sponsors. A number of other organizations have generously donated services and products as well advertised our event and encouraged their members to attend. Ministries of the Québec and federal government as well as host of other organizations have also expressed their interest in partnering with the Greater Montréal Chapter of Women In Bio. We are very excited.”
This is only the beginning, the first chapter of Women In Bio in Canada. For more information on the chapter and the event launch, go to: http://womeninbio.org/chapter-montreal.shtml.
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