Top women in medical devices 2014

We have been remiss, we confess. This is our inaugural annual issue featuring the top women in the med tech industry, unlike our sister publication FierceBiotech that routinely assembles a similar ranking in that sector.

It's a reminder of just how far some women have come in a heavily male-dominated industry. One poignant indication of how infrequently women advance as seminal figures came in the form of a recent ProPublica analysis showing that of the 300 physicians who make the most money from employment by drug and medical device companies to consult on and explain their products in public speaking engagements, 90% are men. That compares to the 68% of the broader physician population who are male.

In addition, out of 24 healthcare conferences in 2014, only four had more female than male speakers. In half the conferences, less than one-third of the speakers were female, according to the website XXinhealth.org.

For our list, we've picked the best and the brightest in all corners of the med tech industry including major companies, startups, venture capital, industry advocates and academics. We've chosen women who represent some of the major shifts and trends within the industry such as the ever-growing consumer orientation of healthcare, the advent of cheaper, easier personalized diagnostics, the use of diagnostics to inform preventative healthcare decisions and the increasing integration of wireless technology into medical devices.

Some of the more intriguing and controversial characters among them are Elizabeth Holmes, who founded a private diagnostic startup said to be worth $9 billion; Divya Nag, who is key to Apple's ($AAPL) healthcare strategy as it starts to unfold; and Mary-Claire King, the academic behind understanding the BRCA breast cancer mutation, who recently advocated for the universal screening of women for these genetic markers at about age 30.

The list includes top executives from the ranks of industry leaders including Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Abbott ($ABT), as well as VCs heading the firms that are investing in the next generation of med tech startups including Rock Health, New Leaf Venture Partners and Baird Capital.

Interestingly, 5 of the 13 women have a Stanford connection. Four were students (though two dropped out) and one is a professor at the university.

We hope that as you read this assemblage of profiles you will learn a bit more about the women shaping and molding the med tech industry, as well as the sector itself. -- Stacy Lawrence (email | Twitter), Varun Saxena (email | Twitter)

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