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A word about women in science

February 24, 2022

By Jill Mullan, iSpecimen

It’s been a good morning. I just read a great column by Harvard’s Kizzmekia S. Corbett, Ph.D., who led the National Institutes of Health team that designed and developed an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in collaboration with Moderna. And right before that, I came across news of another award for mRNA pioneer Katalin Karikó, whose research provided the foundation for two COVID-19 vaccines.

One of many reasons these scientists inspire me is that they are women whose historic achievements constitute unassailable proof of their prodigious scientific abilities.

It shouldn’t matter that they’re women, but often if feels like it still does. Unfortunately, gender stereotypes still exist, with some believing that women are less passionate about and less capable of excelling in science and technology. It shouldn’t take a Nobel-prizeworthy achievement to make the case that this simply isn’t true. The world needs to stop considering sex as a relevant factor in who should be guided to and will succeed in a career in STEM. What’s important in STEM is not the sex or gender identity of the people in it; what’s important is the advancements that these scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and others bring to the world.

Where I came from

Luckily for me, I had two engineer parents who encouraged me to pursue my love of science and math. I started my career with a Cornell electrical engineering degree and became a hardware engineer at Hewlett Packard. There I was solely responsible for the design of an ASIC (a critical microchip) used in HP’s workstations. Later, I was at IBM leading product management for IBM’s legendary microprocessors. After roles in other high-tech companies over the course of the next 20 years, I joined iSpecimen in 2010 as a co-founder. Maybe surprisingly, I knew little about life sciences when I joined iSpecimen, but with my background in technology and an MD/PhD co-founder who spent many plane rides teaching me about medicine, I’ve pretty much spanned all the letters in STEM in my role as Chief Operating Officer.

Our team

But this post isn’t about me; it’s about our company and value we get by actively including everyone in science. I am proud to say that the doors are wide open at iSpecimen for all who love science and technology and the composition of our company demonstrates this. For example:

  • iSpecimen’s founding team was 50% women (our CEO Christopher Ianelli and me).
  • Across the C-Suite, 50% are women and 50% are men.
  • At the VP level, we have 60% women: 3 out of every 5 VPs are women.
  • Across the entire company, we’re more than 60% women.
  • And on the board level, we have 2 women out of 7 directors. We have some progress to make there, but it’s good to see representation.
  • On the intern level, we have roughly 50% women as well. That bodes well for our future, and the future of these valued young people.

What we’ve achieved so far, and what we’ll achieve in the future, represents contributions small and large from women, men, and nonbinary people. Diversity and inclusion are an important part of our success, and we are thrilled that you are, or may soon be, a part of it. An equal part, whoever you might be.

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