Women’s History Month: Celebrating Pioneers and Future Trailblazers

Rosalind Franklin is perhaps best known for her contribution to the discovery of the structure of DNA.

Alice Augusta Ball developed the first treatment for Hansen’s disease (leprosy).

Marie Maynard Daly, the first African American woman to earn a PhD in chemistry, discovered the link between heart health and cholesterol.

For centuries, women have worked tirelessly to advance medicine and healthcare.

According to the United States Census Bureau, women have made gains in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. In 1970, fewer than 1 in 10 STEM workers were female (8%), but as of 2019, women made up more than a third of the STEM worker population (27%).  That said, there’s still room for growth.

AstraZeneca believes that inclusion in the workforce is a right and diversity is a strength. History has shown that the success of our company depends on full representation, and that creating opportunities for girls and women to study and work in STEM is key.  

Advice from AstraZeneca’s female leaders:

Following the footsteps of women like Rosalind, Alice, and Marie, AstraZeneca’s female leaders have long been driving innovation and advancements in life sciences. Fifty one percent of AstraZeneca’s employee base are female, and 48.1% of senior middle management roles occupied by women. In addition, more than 4 in 10 of the company’s senior leadership team is female.

To help inspire more women to enter life sciences and pharmaceuticals, some of AstraZeneca’s women leaders shared advice on how to break into the industry:

“My career path has taught me that the key factors for women or men to be successful are self-motivation and belief, hard work, teamwork, and a supportive boss. These factors boost your chances of success regardless of being in industry or academia. If there is no support from line managers, then a strong and able mentor can be invaluable. If there is an institutional block to your career progression, consider a sideways step.” - Maria Belvisi, Vice President and Head of Respiratory, Inflammation and Autoimmunity, AstraZeneca R&D

Maria Belvisi

Susan Galbraith and team

“(Women contemplating a career in life sciences) should do what they have a passion for and what gives them energy. They should learn as much as they can at every instance, ask questions, be curious, know their stuff. Work hard! It is important to invest time in learning and meeting people. Don’t underestimate this. Be kind, be yourself as you move forward in your career. Learn from others and invest time in the team and yourself. Be inclusive.” - Regina Fritsche Danielson, Vice President and Head of Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolism, AstraZeneca R&D

Be ambitious and work to increase your self-confidence. It takes hard work and dedication, but this industry is delivering life-changing advances and that is a great reason to come to work. Learn to work effectively as part of a team, as this is one of the most rewarding parts of the job. And have fun!” - Susan Galbraith, Senior Vice President and Head of Oncology, AstraZeneca R&D

Forging an equitable future for women

“I will look for opportunities to further advance leadership roles for women and to create a culture of inclusion, so that our organization represents and reflects the diversity of the communities we serve.” – Joris Silon, US Country President, BioPharmaceuticals Business Unit

AstraZeneca is committed to gender equity, and works year-round to strengthen inclusion and diversity. We offer dedicated training programs to support and accelerate the career and personal goals of women in our company. (Women are currently promoted at a higher rate than men across all levels of seniority, positively impacting the gender balance.)

“One of the most important aspects of being a female leader in healthcare is the commitment we have to pay it forward to the young girls and women around us. I have been gifted with such brilliant and inspiring mentors throughout my life and career. It is because of them that my ambition is to do the same for the next generation by cheering on young women to pursue a career in STEM. By welcoming new, bright, and innovative minds to our field, we accelerate the delivery of new treatments and solutions for patients and their families. Together, women of STEM from the past, present and future, will change the clinical practice of medicine to better impact the health, and the lives, of millions of people.” - Rachele Berria, Vice President, US Medical, Biopharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca

Rachele Berria

Christie Bloomquist

“As a proud mom of three girls, I hope for a future where gender bias is not a factor in their ability to reach their full potential in whichever path they choose. This drives my passion to create opportunities for women today to help break the bias and forge equality for the next generation of female leaders.” - Christie Bloomquist, Vice President, US Corporate and Government Affairs, AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is one of 325 companies on the Bloomberg LP Gender-Equality Index 2021, which distinguishes companies committed to transparency in gender reporting and advancing women’s equality. And, in February 2021, the Hampton-Alexander Review named AstraZeneca one of the highest-ranking pharmaceutical companies in the FTSE 100 for representation of women on the combined executive committee and their direct reports.

“Female representation, particularly in leadership, is crucial for healthy societies. We are committed to breaking down barriers and empowering the girls of today to be the leaders of tomorrow.”- Katarina Ageborg, Executive Vice-President, Sustainability and Chief Compliance Officer; President AstraZeneca AB, Sweden