Incoming MassBio Chairman Eyes Improving Gender Diversity Across the State’s Life Sciences Industry


David Lucchino, chief executive officer of Woburn, Mass.-based Frequency Therapeutics, is expected to be named the next chairman of MassBio (Massachusetts Biotechnology Council) next month during the organization’s trade meeting.

When he takes over for current chair Abbie Celniker, a partner with Third Rock Ventures, he plans to continue to focus on gender diversity issues in the states’ life sciences industry, the Boston Business Journal reported. In an interview with the Boston Business Journal Lucchino outlined some of his plans for MassBio when he takes over as chairman. Lucchino said he wanted to build on some of the programs and initiatives that were launched during Celniker’s term. Specifically, Lucchino said he wanted to build on gender diversity initiatives across the life science industry in the state. During his interview with the Journal, Lucchino pointed to a report issued last year that provided 50 recommendations on closing the gender gap –something that has become a growing concern for the past several years. The MassBio report showed that men hold 76 percent of all C-suite positions in life science companies across the state. Additionally, the report showed that men hold 86 percent of board seats as well.

“We have credibility to be able to influence that,” Lucchino told the Journal. “We can encourage (companies) to raise awareness and walk the walk and talk the talk.”

In 2017 MassBio sent an open letter to the biopharma community calling for greater diversity. The organization said having a more diverse leadership team will provide better decision making, increase productivity and financial performance and assist with recruiting and retention of talent.

“To ensure that the biopharma industry thrives and is sustainable, we, as community leaders, see it as our responsibility to drive diversity as a top priority,” the MassBio open letter said.

Those smaller numbers of women holding executive and board positions in life science companies are not isolated to Massachusetts. A recent survey conducted in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Business Times indicated there is still a “glaring divide” when it comes to gender diversity. Also, the Times report indicated that blatant sexism is still an issue that those women who have risen through the ranks still face. Similar to the statewide MassBio report the Times survey of the 20 largest biotech companies in the Bay Area the Business Times reported that 86 percent of boards of director seats were held by men.

The not-for-profit MassBio is a champion of the life science industry in the Bay State. The organization pushes policy and healthcare education as it supports its more than 1,000 member companies and organizations.

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