Liftstream Report Finds Ten Men for Every Woman Present in Biotech Boardrooms

  • Unstructured hiring practices and over-reliance on personal networks is limiting opportunities for women in biotech
  • Germany and The Netherlands have the lowest proportion of women in the boardroom (4.1%), compared to Scandinavia (15.5%) and France (17.4%)
  • But there are twice as many women in corporate VC compared to traditional VC (18.1% vs 9.6%)

London, UK, October 23, 2014 / - Liftstream Ltd, a company providing executive recruitment services to the biotechnology sector, announces the publication of its new gender diversity report, "Diversifying the Outlook – The X&Y of Biotechnology Leadership", a detailed analysis of women leaders in European and US life biotech companies. The research covers 700 companies, 60 C-level interviews and 530 survey respondents.

The report details how the biotechnology sector is considerably under represented by female executives and Board directors. Female board directors in US & EU Biotech (SMEs) account for only 9.7% and 11.2% of positions respectively, and only 4% of company chairpersons are female. Analysis of large-cap biotech indicated better numbers of female Board members (19.2%) but in terms of female executive leaders (13.9%) it lagged SMEs. Unstructured hiring processes and over-reliance on personal networks among, predominantly male, influencers are identified as underlying causes limiting the opportunities for women in biotech leadership. The research also examines how the sector's reliance on venture capital financing impacts executive and board appointments, as well as the gender diversity among the VC stakeholder group. The report includes diversity case studies from industry leaders Merck Serono, Cubist, Johnson & Johnson and Biogen Idec.  

Key recommendations include:

  • CEOs and chairs must lead the change on gender diversity
  • Recruiters should provide greater advocacy to companies and women on leadership 
  • Investors should apply structured process to ensure executive appointments are optimised for diversity  

Karl Simpson, CEO at Liftstream commented: "The biotech sector faces considerable challenges in meeting its board and executive leadership requirements. However, this detailed research shows that gender inequality remains a significant problem at the top of companies. Our reported data and examination of influencing factors on the appointment of executives, presents evidence which is designed to help accelerate the opportunities for women to secure vital leadership roles in biotechnology. Improving gender diversity will strengthen leadership teams and lead to better business. At Liftstream we want to provide evidence for leaders to act on and this report improves the sector's knowledge about gender diversity in biotech leadership."

Liftstream will be working with their global network of biotechnology and life science executives to develop further initiatives aimed at improving awareness and representation of women leaders in the biotech sector, as well as working with established organisations leading in this area. To download the full free report visit:

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About Liftstream
Liftstream Ltd is a leader in executive recruitment services for the biotechnology sector; offering our clients a full capability to recruit board and executive leadership, as well as specialised expertise across the functions comprising R&D, Commercial and Operations. Founded in 2003, Liftstream has extensive sector knowledge which we use to advise and support our clients' hiring requirements and to deliver the highest quality people through a structured and rigorous search process. Liftstream provides services to its clients from London offices. We are supporters of equal opportunities and diversity.


Karl Simpson
Liftstream Ltd.
T: +44 (0) 20 3178 5864
E: [email protected]

Media enquiries:

Daniel Gooch/Gemma Howe
Instinctif Partners (Communications consultancy)
T: +44 (0) 20 7866 7860
E: [email protected]

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