The International Women’s Day 2023 theme, “Embrace Equity,” highlights that collective activism drives change. Though not exclusive to women, improving equity is an important contributor towards the social, economic, cultural, and political advancement of women.
Women In Bio (WIB) is an organization of professional women from all career paths in the life sciences committed to promoting career development, leadership, and entrepreneurship for all women in the life sciences. It is comprised of over 4000 members in thirteen chapters across the United States of America and one Canadian chapter in the Greater Montreal area.
According to the latest Women in the Workplace report from McKinsey, in partnership with LeanIn.Org. “Women leaders are switching jobs at the highest rates we’ve ever seen, and ambitious young women are prepared to do the same. To make meaningful and sustainable progress toward gender equality, companies need to go beyond table stakes.” With women demanding more from their workplaces, such as better and fair representation, “women helping women” became the igniting philosophy of the WIB organization. The Greater Montreal chapter recently created the ECBG (Excellence in Canadian Board Governance) program in collaboration with McGill University, to address the process of building diversity in the boardroom by increasing board leadership opportunities for women (C-suite/Senior Executives/Founders) in Canada’s life science and biotechnology sectors.
Dr. Catherine Argyriou, chair of Women in Bio – Greater Montreal summarized her experience with WIB since 2014. “Becoming close with other committee members allowed me a candid look into aspects of the industry I would not otherwise know, and access to wide experience… Most precious though, are the friendships formed through the years that now extend far beyond professional.” Dr. Argyriou served as a dedicated executive committee member, leading multiple sub-committees in the Montreal chapter before becoming the chapter chair in November 2022. The Greater Montreal WIB chapter consists of five subcommittees working together to inspire their members and to challenge themselves to become better leaders. Sub-committees include Programming, Communication, Membership and Partnership, YWIB (Young Women In Bio) MAPS (Mentorship, Advisors, Peers, and Sponsorship) and ECBG.
The programming sub-committee plans, organises, and executes events throughout the year, covering a multitude of topics with the goal of network building and professional development in the life sciences. The events cater to the life science community at various stages of their careers, highlighting expert women in diverse roles from academia to industry, giving members the chance to explore a variety of valuable topics.
Communication focusses on the three WIB content pillars: Engage, Educate, and Empower by creating content to engage members and non-members through participation at events, sponsorship of activities, and sharing of experiences. This sub-committee advocates for education by promoting events locally and across North America, by highlighting partner events, and by sharing membership opportunities. The member spotlight series, empowers women by providing a platform to celebrate their achievements, their career paths, and their advice for the future of STEM.
The MAPS sub-committee brings together WIB members at different stages of their career and with their various backgrounds in a professional yet social atmosphere. Meetings and events focus on discussing topics of common professional interest, like transformational leadership, entrepreneurship, leading/running a company, finance, and raising capital.
In membership, the sub-committee strives to promote WIB and increase chapter membership in many different populations, such as among students, biotech and pharma professionals, and bio-entrepreneurs. During events, the membership sub-committee welcomes participants to WIB by providing resources and benefits for WIB membership and helping people make mutually beneficial connections. Continuously building and leveraging a strong network is critical for career success. WIB-Greater Montreal also partners with key organizations, like Ag-West Bio, to enhance opportunities for the larger membership.
Lastly, the YWIB subcommittee aims to instill the love of STEM in high-school students. YWIB runs a YWIB Ambassador program designed to create educational and leadership opportunities in STEM for young women who are passionate about science. In addition. YWIB, in partnership with the Goodman Cancer Institute at McGill, Concordia University, and IRIC at Université de Montréal, leads hands-on workshops. As claimed by a teacher, YWIB programming was “the highlight of the school year”.
By embracing equity, we embrace diversity and inclusion. Embracing equity forges harmony and unity, and helps to drive success for all.
Thank you to the Women in Bio, Montreal for submitting the article and photos.