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We Support BioCentury’s Karen Bernstein and Kate Bingham on their Open Letter to Biotech Industry Leaders

  • February 5, 2016

  • Industry leaders take stand against sexism.

    From BioCentury:

    More than 230 leaders of the biopharma industry have signed an open letter expressing outrage and calling for an end to the use of “scantily clad” female models and dancers at professional networking events.

    Karen Bernstein

    Karen Bernstein

    The letter was circulated by Kate Bingham and Karen Bernstein in response to the LifeSci Advisors After Party that occurred during the week of the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, “where young, female models were brought in to escort the guests on buses to the Exploratorium and to mingle with the crowd,” according to the letter. JPMorgan was not affiliated with the LifeSci Advisors event.

    The letter also notes that “the official video of the 27th Annual ROTH Conference proudly flaunts its use of scantily clad female dancers.” Bingham is managing partner at SV Life Sciences Advisers. Bernstein is co-founder and chairman of BioCentury Publications, Inc.

    In a statement emailed to BioCentury, LifeSci Advisors co-founders Michael Rice and Andrew McDonald said, “LifeSci Advisors made a serious mistake when we invited female promotional models to our after party following the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco last month. “We want to apologize to our female and male colleagues throughout the biotech and bioscience industries. In addition, the open letter that Kate Bingham and Karen Bernstein wrote this week has had a positive impact on us and on our industry.

    “As a firm, we now have an opportunity to make a difference and help tackle some of the core issues facing women in our field. Some of those issues include the lack of women in management and leadership positions, the lack of mentors and professional development networks for women that are necessary to cultivate future leaders in our industry and the under representation of girls in STEM programs.

    “In the coming days, LifeSci Advisors will be launching a series of concrete initiatives to address these systemic issues. We plan to invest our time, energy, resources and money to help resolve these problems and hopefully play a meaningful role in improving our industry’s track record on diversity.”

    Bingham said, “This is absolutely the right thing for LifeSci Advisors to have done, and we look forward to working with them on their initiatives to support diversity and inclusion. But no less importantly, we encourage others engaging in these unsavory practices to follow in their footsteps.” Bernstein added, “If we have truly put an end to these kinds of activities in our industry, it will be one small step for humanity and I will consider it well worth the efforts of all the people who supported this — including all the people whose signatures we didn’t have the time to add.”

    John Chambers, vice chairman and head of healthcare investment banking at Roth Capital Partners, told BioCentury, “It’s unfortunate to have our name referenced in this context by people who have not attended our event. We have more families and spouses attend than any other investor conference I’ve been involved in. I haven’t had a single complaint from anyone who’s attended. I’m proud of the event for the visibility it provides to emerging growth companies to gain access to investors in a professional setting.”The Roth event included performances by the rock groups Poison and Fall Out Boy.

    The open letter was reported by FierceBiotech on Feb. 2, and elicited a strong response on Twitter. BioCentury did not ask its employees to sign the letter, but co-founder, President and CEO David Flores, BioCentury Editor Susan Schaeffer and BioCentury Innovations Editor C. Simone Fishburn have signed.