To kick off Women’s HERstory Month, Dr. Stephanie Taylor gave a virtual talk on women in leadership roles in the health science industry on March 1. Assistant Professor of communication arts Satarupa Dasgupta, who has a Ph.D. in health communication, hosted the event.
Taylor is a scholar and an executive director of value, evidence and outcomes at Eli Lilly and Company, one of America’s top pharmaceutical companies. She develops strategies to integrate health economics with outcomes research in the neuroscience early phase clinical development programs. Her work is primarily focused on gene therapies and compounds in development for several diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia.
Throughout a slideshow she utilized during her presentation, Taylor included photos of her and her colleagues having fun and getting along in corporate spaces, showing that there is pleasure in working. However, it showed that she is the only woman, which is why she said having representation and showing people of all different walks of life is so important for successfully solving problems in healthcare and any field.
“You have to own your confidence. You know what you’re doing.”
– Dr. Stephanie Taylor
“It’s still a different world for women because we get treated differently,” Taylor said during the Q&A portion of the talk. She discussed that women need to always have confidence when entering a room or workplace, whether they are in a leadership role or not.
“You have to own your confidence. You know what you’re doing,” she said, encouraging women to even “do some acting” if they have to and practice exuding confidence so they can become comfortable in themselves and their work.
In Taylor’s experience in academia and corporate America, she understands that male-dominated spaces can create an unwelcoming or intimidating culture for female employees. However, her biggest piece of advice is for women to remember that they do not need to act like men or anyone else to be successful — they just need to be themselves.
“Authenticity will help you… because you can’t be anyone else,” she said. “Just own it.”
The greatest topic Taylor focused on during the talk and Q&A was the value of mentorship. Having various and diverse mentors throughout all areas of life is pivotal to constantly be learning, improving and reaching goals. Taylor herself is a mentor and still a mentee.
“Whether you work in academia, you work in industry, corporate America, you have to make sure that you get role models, make sure that you have mentors,” she said. “They may not look like you, they may not have the same experiences, but oftentimes when people want to mentor, they’re there for you. They’re not necessarily there for their own benefit. They want to help others.”
She said one of the best things someone can do is just ask the people they admire or would like advice from to talk with them. Building connections with mentors can simply begin by just saying, “hey, can I talk to you for a few minutes or thirty minutes about X” or offering particular monthly meeting suggestions to get to know about the mentor and how they got to where they are now, in addition to the mentee sharing their own goals and questions. Being upfront and direct is okay and typically well-respected.
“One thing I want you to make sure is that you don’t just look for someone who looks like you. You gotta look for someone who you admire… and you want to get diverse thought.”
Featured photo courtesy of Momoneymoproblems, Wikipedia