Women in Plastics-the healthcare discussion' was a great success at Med Tech Innovations Expo
Our 'Women in Plastics-the healthcare discussion' held at Med Tech Innovations Expo on 16 May 2019, was a great success.
The panel discussion which saw our three guest speakers, Dr Artemis Stamboulis, Helena Flowers and Rebecca Smith discuss the different routes into their careers, as well as how to benefit from the opportunities and overcome some of the challenges around diversity and equality in the STEM industries.
What was clear from our panel is that visibility of role models to encourage more women into the sector is vital and the benefits of mentoring will promote greater confidence in young women.
Rebecca explained how after graduating with a degree in Biology “I was really lucky to work for MSD, a very supportive pharmaceutical company in terms of the women they had there.”
Talking of a female colleague she adds: “To learn and see someone like that in a really powerful position and progress, I got to find my feet in that organisation seeing that women can move through the business.”
Dr Artemis explained how her family business held a priority for the male members of the family “male cousins were considered a better choice to take over the business.” This led to her branching out and taking charge of her own career. She completed a PHD and the Mercury Fellowship which led to applications of polymers in medicine.
Helena Flowers, Managing Director at Andel Plastics took over the family business in 2014 and recalls having her mum there was a great inspiration. She encourages women to reach out and find a visible role model, seeking advice to propel your own career.
Rebecca urged us to back ourselves. “Don’t allow yourself to become a victim. Back yourself. You need to be behind yourself then others will do it as well.”
Dr Artemis added: “I’m not interested in being in competition with men. I would like women to be confident and get up and be themselves we have the intellectual capacity. We are equal in this."
Creating an inclusive workplace
Rebecca noted opportunities arise from development and progression which can often be hindered if women take time out to have children. “The time away creates a gap there to not be able to progress as you might want.”
She also questioned if you don’t take time out to have children how much can a woman be held back even if this is not overtly obvious. “It could be very discrete, it’s an unconscious type of discrimination as the person might not even realise. They are unconsciously bias.”
The panellists agreed the more diversity you can have in an organisation the more benefits, adding you can’t have diversity without inclusivity.
Can quotas be a positive step?
With so many questions around quotas and the right people for the job. Should you put people in a job due to gender, race or sexual orientation?
The panel discussed quotas, asking is it simply a promoted tokenism, box-ticking exercise, which could represent an unsustainable short-term fix.
Leanne Taylor, our host, noted there are opportunities for women to take, while we are still trying to un-do some stereotypes about which roles are for which people.
Helena added: “There is no such job as a male job and a female job but a job well done or that a job you need more practice in.”
Panellists agreed that, ultimately, diversity needs to be a core business strategy and part of the organisation’s culture, with sufficient representation across every level.
- We need to make diversity and inclusion more relatable, by ensuring there are visible role models at all levels, by offering mentoring,
- Have transparency in progression, by listening and acting upon feedback, and starting early via school outreach initiatives.
- Women wanting to start families could be better addressed to push past the barriers and stigma of women wanting to maintain their careers.