Status of Women Canada announces new BioTalent Canada Initiative to cultivate women in biotech

VANCOUVER, BC, March 3, 2014 /CNW/ - The Honourable Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women Canada announced a new project for BioTalent Canada to connect and advance women in biotechnology, classified as a "non-traditional" industry. The three year project will engage stakeholders to identify the challenges and needs on how best to assist women in entering the bio-economy and support local networks of women in Vancouver, Toronto, Charlottetown and Montreal. These networks will allow women currently working in the bio-economy, who are looking to break into the industry or who are considering the bio-economy as a career option for networking and receiving guidance from like-minded biotech professionals. The announcement was made today at a special networking breakfast event in Vancouver hosted by Life Sciences BC.

"Canada is far better off when the talents and skills of women are fully utilized in every sector of our economy- from biotech to construction, and all the way to the corporate boardroom," said Minister Leitch.  "That is why the Government of Canada is committed to increasing economic opportunities for all women in Canada, including those seeking employment in non-traditional careers."

"Women constitute over 60% of physical and life sciences post-secondary graduates in Canada, yet according to our recent 2013 labour market study - Sequencing the Data , the number of biotech companies that hire women has decreased by 11.5% in the last five years - this represents a significant lost talent pool," says Rob Henderson, BioTalent Canada's President and CEO. "Skills shortages and access to talent continue to impede the industry, so being able to connect and advance career opportunities for women in the industry will help address these skills gaps so companies can focus on commercial success."

"Promoting careers, leadership, and entrepreneurship of women in the life sciences is our mission, and we are pleased to partner with BioTalent Canada, on this project," says Carmela DeLuca, Co-Chair, Women in Bio Greater Montreal Chapter. "Creating more networks, profiling women in the industry and encouraging young women to enter the sector will create a more diverse and dynamic workforce to help the industry reach its goals," says Deluca. "Our speakers and many of our members who hold senior positions in the broad range of life science careers,  serve as roles models and offer mentorship to women entering the work force  and those aspiring to higher level of success," added Co-Chair , Marilyn Krelenbaum.

The project will leverage the existing network model established by Women in Bio, an international networking organization for women in the biotech industry, which has successfully started a chapter in Montreal and will provide ongoing support to the networks in the long term. Working with project partners, BioTalent Canada will conduct a needs assessment to identify key challenges women face when integrating into the bio-economy, particularly institutional gaps, as well as supports. The organization will develop local networks through which women and stakeholders will work in partnership to develop sector action plans. Strategies to be implemented as part of these local plans could include reviews of human resources policies and mentoring. BioTalent Canada will identify and publish the success factors and recruitment profiles of successful women in the bio-economy. Project partners include: BioQuebec, Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRC), LifeLabs, LifeSciences BC, Life Sciences Ontario (LSO), Ontario Bioscience Industry Organization (OBIO), PEI BioAlliance, British Columbia's Student Biotechnology Network, and Women in Bio.

About Women in Bio Greater Montreal Chapter
The WIB-Greater Montreal Chapter seeks to bring together professionals from across Quebec with bio-related interests in diverse sectors. Life science industry business professionals, entrepreneurs and scientists from the private sector, government institutions, and academia are invited to join and benefit from WIB's many resources which include networking, professional development and leadership seminars, programming aimed at the next generation of female life science professionals, sharing insights and innovations, and learning about the latest developments, and opportunities within the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical devices industries. For more information please visit www.womeninbio.org/wib-chapters/greater-montreal/.

About BioTalent Canada:
BioTalent Canada is the HR partner of Canada's bio-economy. As an HR expert and national non-profit organization, BioTalent Canada focuses on building partnerships and skills for Canada's bio-economy to ensure the industry has access to job-ready people. Through projects, research and product development BioTalent Canada connects employers with job seekers, delivers human resource information and skills development tools so the industry can focus on strengthening Canada's biotech business. For more information please visit www.biotalent.ca.

About Status of Women Canada
Status of Women Canada works to advance equality for women and girls across Canada by removing barriers to participation in society and places particular emphasis on their economic security and prosperity, their leadership and democratic participation and ending violence against women.

SOURCE BioTalent Canada

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Media inquiries:
Siobhan Williams
Director, Marketing and Communications
BioTalent Canada
613-235-1402 ext. 229
siobhanw@biotalent.ca