By Liam Selfors

We picked the brains of a few of biohealth’s top female leaders on encouraging diversity in the workplace through connection and collaboration at the Wisconsin Biohealth Summit 2017. Here are a few great pieces of advice from the panel for you to bring to your workplace.

The introductory panel session featured four devotees to the recent ‘Women in Biohealth’ initiative in Madison. The group works to attract women to pursue careers in the biohealth industry, encourage workplace diversity, and provide a space for women to connect, support, and uplift each other.

From ‘Women in Academia’ to ‘Women in Biohealth’

The most daunting hurdle for any bioscience professional can often be the transition from academia to industry. The panel had some suggestions for women in this transition to strengthen their outlook and find success. While it may seem like your Ph.D. becomes irrelevant when you enter the workforce, the panel discussed the importance of embracing your current knowledge, specifically your transferable knowledge. Most industries value transferable skills like thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork. Above all, your ability to communicate, network, and make a dynamic first impression will be vital.

One of the simplest but most influential pieces advice the panel offered was to get a mentor. Women in particular need role models who look like them, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there to get mentoring from the people you think can give it. A good mentor will use their experience to help you find your path, and the ‘Women in Biohealth’ organization is a great resource to get connected.

Fighting the Bias

Split tests between male and female students being considered for a position based on the same resume showed that recruiters are less likely to hire, mentor, and pay women competitively. It’s essential that we make ourselves and our colleagues aware of the biases that underlie these effects, and to first make sure the bias is not within yourself.

We all must realize that this effort cannot be done alone. The gap can only be bridged with support from both sides. Women don’t need to rely on men, rather they need to create an alliance with them. Do your best to make combatting bias and stigma a collaborative effort.

As a leader, a good strategy is to seek out the leadership behaviors that have a positive effect and work hard to build a strong reputation. Most importantly, you must learn to exude confidence. Find an inner balance as you focus on the task, discussion, debate, and work at hand, and remember that it’s okay to be yourself

Parting Advice from the Panel

The session ended on a positive note as the panelists urged women in biohealth to take bigger risks and be unafraid of failure. Remember everything you’re doing right and don’t let criticism bring you down. Understand that vulnerability is a strength, and that it’s only going to get better. Stick to your guns because you’ll never have an impact if you give up.

To learn more about Women in Biohealth, feel free to contact a member of their team or join the Women in Biohealth group on Linkedin. WIB will be hosting their kick-off networking event in January. No membership required – just enjoy and relax as you meet with other Women in Biohealth from the Madison area!

For more recap blogs and videos, visit our past Summit page here!