Bracken Goes Beyond: Continuing to Highlight the Women of our Consulting Team

Amy Jarvis

At The Bracken Group, our consultancy is more than just a consulting team—we're a community of accomplished professionals who bring diverse perspectives and expertise to the table. Across our divisions, from regulatory to marketing, from business development to drug development, for every niche there’s a member of our team who’s an expert in the field.

This Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting members of our elite consulting team who have forged unique paths across the life sciences industry, navigating challenges, seizing opportunities, and driving impactful change along the way.

From their diverse backgrounds to their shared commitment to excellence, these women embody the spirit of Bracken—resilient, adaptable, and continuously thriving in a dynamic environment.

Through the valuable lessons and perspectives they have to offer, we hope to uplift and inspire others in the life sciences, spark meaningful conversations, and pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable future in the industry.

Diversity and Inclusion Aren’t Buzzwords

In 1970, women made up 38% of all U.S. workers and only 8% of STEM workers. Nearly 50 years later, 2019 data show the STEM proportion had increased to 27% with women comprising 48% of all workers. While great strides are being made, women working in the life sciences industry face a multitude of challenges that hinder their advancement and professional fulfillment: from entrenched gender biases to disparities in pay and networking opportunities.

Strong female support groups and mentorship programs can mitigate these challenges, providing invaluable guidance and support for women navigating the complexities of career advancement in the life sciences industry.

Systemic problems, a lot like scientific ones, need to be addressed at the root. We need women in leadership. Oftentimes, women can bring a multifaceted approach to all aspects of the life sciences industry—one frequently characterized by collaboration, intuition, empathy, and a focus on long-term goals.

Diversity and inclusion aren’t buzzwords. Collaborative teamwork matters; working together respectfully matters. In a field as fast-paced and truly vital as the life sciences, infusing the necessary strategic objectives and business goals with insightful empathy can make all the difference between success and failure. Genuine diversity can drive sustainable practices that will continue evolving the life sciences to foster a more inclusive and equitable professional landscape—for today and for the future.

Let’s Talk Leadership

History, botany, architecture, engineering, zoology, marketing, geology, veterinary work—our team puts the “life” in “life sciences”! Our female consultants broke into the industry in a myriad of ways. For some, it was the tried-and-true trajectory of a related undergraduate degree, fast-tracked to medical school or higher scientific education—for others, the path looked a little different.

But the path to leadership was even more varied. For some, it was a declared, tangible decision; one that led to wanting to make the big ones. For others, it was part of moving up the career ladder. And for the remainder, it was a happy accident. There’s no one-size-fits-all—not in this industry, and not at Bracken. Hear directly from some of our female consultants directly, some of whom hold leadership positions either here at Bracken or at external life science organizations:

Rosemary Shull underscores the importance of determination, mentorship, and continuous learning. She emphasizes the need to seek out mentors, emulate successful leaders, and approach challenges with positivity and professionalism. “Stay positive and professional. Go to your boss with solutions, too, not a pile of problems,” she advises, highlighting the significance of proactive problem-solving and teamwork.

Lisa D. Cooper’s anecdote about pursuing a PhD while working in the industry exemplifies resilience and the pursuit of lifelong learning. She challenges the notion that educational barriers should limit career aspirations and underscores the enduring value of education. “While titles can come and go by the will of a company, education can never be taken from you,” she asserts, emphasizing the lasting impact of continuous personal and professional development.

“Find your role model,” Bracken CMO Gitte Andreasen advises, “and invite her to become your mentor.” Gitte's experience highlights the transformative power of mentorship and role models in shaping career trajectories. Her story underscores the importance of mentorship and the profound impact of supportive relationships in professional growth and development. Senior Partner Jen Yip reinforces the importance of mentorship: “Particularly in Pharma, which is a very ‘white’ industry in the US, women of color are often ‘the only’ in the room. Seek out mentors who share the same type of life experience, or if you are a more senior leader who isn’t of the majority race, to make time to reach out to more junior women of color in the spirit of mentorship. Representation, whether in gender or race, is everything.”

Elyse Rogers's advice resonates with a call for resilience and strategic navigation of professional challenges. “Build relationships and collaborate, don’t dominate, and you will naturally be chosen to lead.” Elyse adds: “Others will follow if you set the example!” She encourages aspiring leaders to anticipate obstacles, prepare responses, and approach setbacks with grace and resilience. By fostering collaboration, building relationships, and leading by example, women can overcome barriers and earn the respect and trust of their peers.

Bracken co-founder, Managing Partner, and Head of Regulatory Affairs Liz Bloss’s emphasis on curiosity, passion, and collaboration rounds out the advice, championing the importance of surrounding oneself with smart individuals, embracing curiosity, and finding fulfillment in one's work: “Try to surround yourself with smart individuals: men and women. Never be afraid to ask questions. Find what drives you and what you are passionate about. If you love what you do, it will never seem like work.”

Together, these insights form a roadmap for aspiring women leaders in the life sciences, offering guidance, inspiration, and a reminder that success is not just about reaching the destination but also about the journey itself.

Life Science: Looking Ahead

In envisioning the future of women in the life sciences industry, it's crucial to acknowledge both the strides made and the challenges that persist. As Lisa Cooper aptly notes, the industry holds vast opportunities for women, offering a landscape where equality can indeed become a reality. Education and networking stand out as pivotal elements in propelling women forward, equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and connections necessary to navigate and excel in this dynamic field. Gitte Andreasen reinforces this sentiment, highlighting the boundless opportunities available to women who seize them. As Jen Yip puts it: “The bottom line for funding—and attaining leadership roles in general—is access. Those [already] in leadership positions need to be allies and find ways to offer fair and equitable opportunities across gender and race.” With more women occupying top positions and driving business success—like in the case study of Bracken’s own team—the narrative of female leadership in the life sciences is evolving, paving the way for future generations of aspiring female leaders.

However—the journey towards gender equality in the industry is not without its challenges. While movements to support women in STEM fields are gaining traction, there remains skepticism about the sincerity of corporate initiatives and investor commitments. The disparity in funding for female-led startups underscores the systemic biases that persist within the investment landscape, emphasizing the urgent need for greater gender diversity and inclusion. Ina Rijnhout's perspective sheds light on the critical role of female entrepreneurship in driving innovation and growth within the life sciences industry. Despite the hurdles faced by female founders in accessing funding, there exists a profound opportunity for women consultants at Bracken to leverage their expertise and support women leaders throughout all stages of their entrepreneurial journey.

Looking ahead, one thing shines through—each of our female consultants encourage more women to pursue careers in the life sciences, emphasizing the limitless potential that awaits those with a passion for science and learning. As the industry continues to evolve, embracing diversity and empowering women to thrive will be essential in shaping a future where gender equality is not just a goal but a reality.

From consulting to marketing, from business development to drug development—our consultants aren’t just valued members of the Bracken team—they’re the best in the biz. Interested in learning more? Contact us today about working with our team of expert consultants. And stay on the lookout for more insights and insider knowledge from our stellar team by subscribing to our newsletter and LinkedIn. Bracken goes beyond: in our internal team, and for our clients, too. 

A special and resounding thank you to the women of our consulting team who contributed their extra time and energy to make this blog post possible: Gitte Andreasen; Liz Bloss, DVM; Lisa D. Cooper, RAC, PhD; Ina Margaretha Rijnhout, MSc; Elyse Rogers; Rosemary Shull; Jen Yip.

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