Ohio’s bioscience community is a diverse and often converging group of industries and activities with a common link – they apply knowledge to develop biological solutions that sustain, restore, and improve the quality of life for humans, plants, and animals in our world. However, where diversity within the sciences has struggled, is in its people. Historically, the fields of science and engineering have been viewed stereotypically as being a career option mostly available to college-educated white men. The industry as a whole has been slow to reach equity in representation for women, people of color, workers with disabilities, and those in lower socio-economic households.

According to the results of a 2017 Study of the U.S. Biotech Industry by Nature Biotechnology Journal, there is a real disparity in representation of executives within the bioscience industry. Of note:  African Americans who represent 13% of the broader workforce, only make up 3% of executive leadership throughout the biosciences. Hispanics, 18% nationally, hold only 4% of management positions and 2% of all board memberships. Women, who now are approximately 60% of all college graduates in the science or medical fields, only represent 20% of current executives.

BioOhio is committed to initiating change, and through education, assist Ohio’s bioscience industry in its efforts to be more inclusive with the goal of a more diverse workforce, and more representation in leadership roles across our community.

BioOhio executed a programming shift in 2019, pivoting the annual Women in Bioscience Conference,  to be inclusive of all under-represented professionals by the creation of the Diversity in Bioscience Series. This year features amazing educational opportunities in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus with the hopes of expanding into other cities in 2020. Partnering with HBA (Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association) chapters, we are excited to bring different voices into our broader conversations.

The first of the 2019 series was held on Friday, August 23 at BioOhio member company Matrix Medical Devices in Mayfield Heights Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. Stephanie Harrington, President & CEO of Matrix, is a BioOhio Board Member, and has been an advocate for diversity and inclusion throughout her career. Our kick-off event of this series would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of Stephanie and her amazing, and notably diverse, team.

The event’s audience was comprised of women, men, people of color, and even a service animal in attendance – that’s right, the kick-off event was also species-diverse! Our speaker, Carolyn Odom, Director of Program Management for Abeona Therapeutics, shared her personal story, highlighting her non-traditional career path to science, and the importance of having mentors, opportunity, and networking guide you along the way.

Before the insightful presentation, Brooke Cartus, Sales Director & Senior Facilitator with member firm ImprovEdge, used interactive exercises to warm up attendees, promoting an honest discussion filled with personal stories from the audience. Strangers quickly became friends, creating an empowering environment of support and motivation fueling us all to play our part in promoting diversity and inclusion within our workplace and the industry at large.

Join us at upcoming events in our 2019 Diversity in Bioscience Series:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 24, 7:30-10am at AtriCure in Cincinnati/Mason
  • Wednesday, Nov. 20, 5-7pm at Battelle in Columbus

Check out the BioOhio Events Page for more info, as well as your email for invites to these and future BioOhio Events.