Canada’s Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women Canada Dr. K. Kellie Leitch was recently on hand at a special networking breakfast event held in Vancouver, BC (hosted by Life Sciences BC) to announce a new project that will see BioTalent Canada help advance women in biotechnology, classified as a “non-traditional” industry.
The three-year project will engage stakeholders to identify the challenges and needs on how best to assist women in entering the bio-economy and support local networks of women in Vancouver, Toronto, Charlottetown and Montreal. These networks will allow women currently working in the bio-economy, who are looking to break into the industry or who are considering the bio-economy as a career option for networking and receiving guidance from like-minded biotech professionals.
“Canada is far better off when the talents and skills of women are fully utilized in every sector of our economy- from biotech to construction, and all the way to the corporate boardroom,” said Minister Leitch. “That is why the Government of Canada is committed to increasing economic opportunities for all women in Canada, including those seeking employment in non-traditional careers.”
“Women constitute over 60 per cent of physical and life sciences post-secondary graduates in Canada, yet according to our recent 2013 labour market study – Sequencing the Data , the number of biotech companies that hire women has decreased by 11.5 per cent in the last five years – this represents a significant lost talent pool,” says Rob Henderson, BioTalent Canada’s president and CEO. “Skills shortages and access to talent continue to impede the industry, so being able to connect and advance career opportunities for women in the industry will help address these skills gaps so companies can focus on commercial success.”
“Promoting careers, leadership, and entrepreneurship of women in the life sciences is our mission, and we are pleased to partner with BioTalent Canada, on this project,” says Carmela DeLuca, co-chair, Women in Bio Greater Montreal Chapter. “Creating more networks, profiling women in the industry and encouraging young women to enter the sector will create a more diverse and dynamic workforce to help the industry reach its goals,” says Deluca. “Our speakers and many of our members who hold senior positions in the broad range of life science careers, serve as roles models and offer mentorship to women entering the work force and those aspiring to higher level of success,” added co-chair , Marilyn Krelenbaum.
The project will leverage the existing network model established by Women in Bio, an international networking organization for women in the biotech industry, which has successfully started a chapter in Montreal and will provide ongoing support to the networks in the long term.
Working with project partners, BioTalent Canada will conduct a needs assessment to identify key challenges women face when integrating into the bio-economy, particularly institutional gaps, as well as supports. The organization will develop local networks through which women and stakeholders will work in partnership to develop sector action plans. Strategies to be implemented as part of these local plans could include reviews of human resources policies and mentoring.
BioTalent Canada will identify and publish the success factors and recruitment profiles of successful women in the bio-economy. Project partners include: BioQuebec, Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRC), LifeLabs, LifeSciences BC, Life Sciences Ontario (LSO), Ontario Bioscience Industry Organization (OBIO), PEI BioAlliance, British Columbia’s Student Biotechnology Network, and Women in Bio.