Alexion Celebrates International Women and Girls in Science Day

Jun 4, 2020 3:00 PM ET

Please note that the activities highlighted in the following article took place prior to the current global health crisis.

In February, to celebrate International Women and Girls in Science Day, employees at our New Haven office gathered for an engaging conversation about their female scientific heroes.

Sharon Barr, Vice President of Research at Alexion, spoke about Gertrude Elion, biochemist, pharmacologist, and winner of the 1988 Nobel Prize for her work in rational drug design. “Gertrude Elion was instrumental in inventing and developing several drugs, including the first immunosuppressive and AZT. She didn’t just create game-changing drugs based on her understanding of science, she had to want it with incredible drive."

Long-standing biases and gender stereotypes have been shown to steer girls and women away from science-related fields. According to data from the UN Scientific Education and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), fewer than 30% of researchers worldwide are women and approximately 30% of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education. Globally, female students’ enrollment is particularly low in natural science (3%), mathematics and statistics (5%), and engineering, manufacturing and construction (8%).

Alexion’s Vice President of Quantitative Sciences, Janis Grechko, says she is inspired by Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellman, an oncologist who played a key role in the development of the first gene-targeted cancer drugs. “Dr. Desmond-Hellman advocated effectively for herself and took charge of her career, constantly taking on roles with greater impact. She truly is a role model.”

International Women & Girls in Science Day focuses on the reality that science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of internationally established development goals.  Alexion has a strong commitment to gender diversity—7 out of 10 executive committee members are women and 53% of our workforce is female—and we are dedicated to inspiring the next generation of women interested in STEM professions.  

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