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Highlighting the role of women in science and innovation

By championing innovative life science technology and new approaches, Medicines Discovery Catapult is supporting UK innovators to succeed. Medicines Discovery Catapult recognises that diversity in the workforce underpins the creative and innovative thinking essential for success in this sector.

women in the Medicines Discovery Catapult workforce
of Medicine Discovery Catapult’s lab-based scientists are women
of the Medicines Discovery Catapult leadership team are women
women in the Alderley Park Lighthouse Lab workforce

As a sector we need to encourage, develop and mentor more women into senior roles. Female scientists, whether working in research functions or not, play diverse and essential roles across our sector and we should be looking at how we generate future leaders from this rich talent pool.
“It is integral to invest in diversity in every form. When people come from a range of backgrounds, they bring with them new perspectives and ideas – this is always positive, and often transformative

Dr Nicola Heron
Chief Business Officer at Medicines Discovery Catapult

Breaking down societal misconceptions surrounding careers in STEM

According to data from The UNESCO Institute for Statistics, women make up fewer than 30 per cent of scientific researchers worldwide. Despite these statistics, progress is being made, especially in certain sub-sectors, such as the life sciences industry, where women make up 49 per cent of the global workforce.

The vital contribution of a diverse workforce has been further highlighted throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, but wider imbalances, such as representation in senior positions and pay disparity, continue to be a global issue. However, evidence of positive progress can be seen within scientific organisations such as Medicines Discovery Catapult.

Currently Medicines Discovery Catapult has 57 per cent women in its workforce, with 64 per cent female representation within their lab-based scientists. In addition, the Medicines Discovery Catapult managed Alderley Park Lighthouse Lab, employs over 750 staff, the majority of whom are scientists – and 48 per cent of them are women. Medicines Discovery Catapult also shows constructive progress within its senior leadership, with a 40 per cent female senior leadership team.

Medicines Discovery Catapult is proud of the gender balance within its workforce and celebrates International Day of Women and Girls in Science annually. The occasion not only highlights the valuable contribution of women in the sector but also aims to inspire the next generation of women in science, with the 2021 celebrations highlighting female Medicines Discovery Catapult scientists who played a vital role in the UK’s COVID-19 response.

As well as celebrating the role of women in combatting the COVID-19 virus, and as part of British Science Week in March 2021, Medicines Discovery Catapult partnered with Levenshulme High School, arranging a series of events for students at the all-girls school, which aimed to break down societal misconceptions surrounding careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and gain wider gender representation.

Although Medicines Discovery Catapult has done much to highlight the role of women in science, they recognise that they are just at the beginning of their equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) journey and are working to further integrate these values into the core of the business.

Other activities Medicines Discovery Catapult are continuing to develop to promote EDI include:

We’re really excited about the partnership with the team at Alderley Park for British Science Week. The site is a tangible example of science in action – applying scientific skills and expertise for the betterment of the nation.
It was incredibly useful for the students to hear from Simone Haworth, Training & Development Manager at the Alderley Park Lighthouse Lab, to understand how a scientist with a similar background to them got to where she is now

Mark Simpkins
Head of Science, Levenshulme High