Despite accounting for half of the global population, women continue to be underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) disciplines worldwide. In the EU, over half (53%) of STEM-related university degrees were obtained by women in 2019, yet three years later, only a third (34%) of professionals in the field were female, according to data from the World Economic Forum (WEF) and European Commission (EC).
Moving up the career progression ladder, this disparity only grows as the percentage of women in positions of power diminishes. In STEM-related disciplines, this correlation is particularly strong. One study shows that, in biopharma companies, around half (47%) of the workforce are women, but this proportion shrinks to just 8% at C-suite level. The nutraceutical industry has a long way to go before gender balance in achieved.
Not only does the lack of women in the workforce impact the culture and credentials of nutraceutical brands, but it also has a direct effect on the types of products that are produced and consumed. Research shows that a clear male bias exists in scientific research with most studies throughout history conducted on male bodies, animals, and cells. The under representation of females in scientific research has created a nutraceutical industry that is largely catered towards addressing male demands.
Why do these discrepancies exist, what are the consequences for women’s health, and what can - and already is - being done to address them?
To answer these questions and more, the Wo(men)’s Networking Lunch, launched at Vitafoods Europe in Geneva in May this year, brought together professionals from across the industry for an afternoon of networking, discussion, and delicious food.
Centered around the topics of female empowerment, inclusion, and equality, the event consisted of two panel discussions featuring a selection of the industry’s leading voices as well as a series of dedicated networking activities. The first session focused on pathways into the industry, highlighting the women who are defying the odds and paving their way to success in typically male-dominated fields. While the second celebrated entrepreneurship, showcasing the female changemakers who are creating nutraceutical products aimed at addressing specific female wants and needs. The speakers and sessions were as follows:
Showcasing the female STEM pioneers
- Colleen Fogarty Draper, CEO/CSO, Co-Founder, PhenomX Health, SA
- Lynda Doyle, President & CEO, Avant Nutrition, LLC
- Caroline Munari, Global R&D Platform Lead Maternal Nutrition, Nestle Nutrition
- Alexandra Boelrijk PhD, Senior Director Research and Development for ProActive Health, KERRY
- Heather Granato, Vice President Partnerships & Sustainability, Informa Markets (Moderator)
Made for women, by women – empowering female entrepreneurs
- Raphaelle O’Connor, Senior Product Development and R&D Consultant,
- Aline Santa Izabel, Innovation Ecosystems & Partnerships Manager, Compare Foundation | DigitalWell Ventures
- Chanyu Xu, Founder & CEO, Her.One
- Lucy Whittaker, Content Producer, Vitafoods Europe (Moderator)
If you missed it, catch up on the sessions by watching the video below: