Breaking Down The Gender Barriers In Life Sciences

Breaking Down The Gender Barriers In Life Sciences

As many in the industry are already fully aware, the life science sector is not necessarily completely gender-equal just yet. While the life science industry is certainly making the necessary and correct strides on its way to achieving gender equality within this professional field, there is still quite a bit that can be done to try to attract more women into the workplace. Thankfully, the vast majority of life science businesses seem to be completely on board with this idea, already putting into place many of the suggested measures.

That does not mean that every life science business is following suit, however. There are some businesses currently operating in the life science sector that have not yet acknowledged their gender inequality in the workplace and subsequently have not changed their attitudes towards this subject. To break down the gender barriers within the life science industry we must first understand where these prejudices may have come from and understand why some women don’t want to pursue a career within the sciences.

It All Starts At Childhood

Gender stereotyping in the classroom is a relatively recent concept. In many places around the world, this concept is still relatively unknown. Essentially, gender stereotyping in the classroom refers to everyday prejudices that occur in a classroom setting. This can range anywhere from telling a person that they cannot learn about a topic because of their gender to saying that people of a certain gender generally do not perform well within a particular subject.

Many experts have cited gender stereotyping within the classroom as one of the primary reasons why women may not want to pursue a career in the life science industry. Many women are told at a young age that they can’t do something because of their gender, or that they will not do as well as a male doing the same task. The sciences are one such subject that is frequently linked with this type of prejudiced behaviour.

Negative Reinforcement

While the initial doubts may be planted during childhood, many women who are now within the life sciences industry have cited adolescence as the main point in their life where they felt as though they could not achieve a career in the sciences. The reason behind this, in many cases, is that women tend to be reminded of how much they differ from men constantly throughout adolescence. This can often reinforce those negative ideas implanted in the individual during childhood.

Due to the high amount of negative reinforcement occurring, it becomes increasingly more difficult for the individual to shake the sense that they are inferior to men, especially with regards to their chosen career path. Many women are told that it is harder for them to advance in their chosen career path than it would be for a man who is on the same path.

This simply is not true, but when it is told to an individual at such a young age and is constantly reinforced over several years of their life then this concept is difficult to forget. This is why many women often avoid a career in the sciences.

Breaking Into The Industry

While many businesses may be trying their best to promote gender equality in the workplace, you cannot deny that this industry is primarily a male-dominated one. Because of this, women often find it more difficult to break into the industry after graduating from college or university. Although they have all of the necessary qualifications, some employers do still have their prejudices against female candidates. It should be stated that this is not overly common in this industry, but prejudices, no matter how subtle or unacknowledged they are, still exist within the life science sector amongst some employers.

What Can Businesses Do To Change This?

The subject of gender equality in the workplace is a loaded one, to say the least. Experts have written entire 20,000-word dissertations on the topic and specialist teams across the globe are working night and day to help businesses combat gender inequality in the workplace. But what can an independent life science business do to ensure that their workplace is completely gender-equal?
The first step is to take the time to think about how you run your business. Think about your recruitment methods, your everyday workplace etiquette, your HR department. Think about your employees and their feedback. Take the time to examine how you do things and if it is truly equal to every gender. If it isn’t then you may need to seek out some external help. You shouldn’t feel bad about doing this, it takes a lot for a business to acknowledge that their practices may not be entirely fair.

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