Gender Gap is Getting Narrower in the Biopharmaceutical Sector

January 15, 2010

The results of BioPharm International's fourth annual salary survey, conducted in the fall of 2009, shows that women lag behind their male counterparts.

The results of BioPharm International’s fourth annual salary survey, conducted in the fall of 2009, shows that women, with a mean salary of $90,983 (€49,773 in Europe), lag behind their male counterparts, with a mean of $99,539 (€73,868 in Europe). Yet our data show unevenness. For the following job responsibilities, for example, US men earn more than women (other categories not included due to low sample sizes):

Corporate management: $152,958 versus $83,600 (largest difference)
QA/QC/validation: $93,333 versus $88,824
Analytical development/support: $92,015 versus $90,521 (smallest difference)

In the following job responsibilities, however, women earn more than men (other categories not included due to low sample sizes):

Regulatory/clinical affairs: $118.329 versus $99,785 (largest difference)
Process development: $95,575 versus $86,887
Research: $86,268 versus $85,369 (smallest difference)

When we asked several biopharmaceutical professionals if they had seen a gender gap at their company, most said they had not. A director of bioprocess development at a medium-sized biotech has not seen a significant gender gap within his company. “For 62 total employees in a random R&D laboratory function, the gender balance was exactly 50:50,” he says. Although, he has witnessed some difference at the management level, “The only noticeable gender gap that I could readily identify in my company was at the level of our board of directors and top-level executive management. Men substantially outnumbered women in those roles.” According to him, “Those particular gaps are more attributable to personal contentment (e.g., female employees choose to remain at mid-to-upper management levels) as opposed to the intentional exclusion of women from advancement to executive-level opportunities.”

“I manage large groups and I didn’t usually see two people in the same job, where a female was paid less than the male,” says the quality assurance professional from a big biotech. “In the technical operations as well as in the leadership, three out of eight in the upper tier are women, so there is a good representation,” he adds.

Eric Langer, president of BioPlan Associates and also a member of BioPharm Internationl’s editorial advisory board, says that in knowledge management and market analysis, there is no discernable gender gap. “From my perspective, people with the expertise and ability to understand, analyze, and present market information are highly valued regardless of gender,” he says.

On the other hand, Maryellen Ruvolo, president of PharmStorm, an online recruitment portal, feels that the glass ceiling is still alive in the biopharma industry, which is still largely dominated by an old boys’ network and ties to the male-dominated research and medical fields. “The good news is that more females are increasingly occupying higher positions in biopharmaceutical companies, which should help even the playing field,” she says.

For more survey findings, see the full Salary Survey