#BalanceforBetter on International Women's Day

Not since women won the vote has there been as much discussion around their place in society as there is today. With a louder voice and wider reach, women’s voices appear to be changing attitudes towards equal pay, sexual abuse, and gender equality, but will this translate into concrete actions such as better access to healthcare, more women working in science? More importantly, what impact is the push to ‘better the balance, better the world’ having on the next generation where one of the biggest buzzwords today is ‘gender’?

To celebrate the 44th year of International Women's Day we asked the next generation for their perspective on gender equality today… 

The younger generation already has a keener awareness around the issue of equality between boys and girls, whether it’s the simple perspective of younger children who have yet to see a difference, to the teenagers where gender is the stuff of jokes to the young adult who has already begun to see the reality of gender balance among her peers. 

Here at Sanofi, our perspective over the past few years has become wider, our vision sharper and our determination to make gender balance a way of life stronger than ever. Women already represent 46% of the overall workforce, bringing us closer to parity than ever before. However, although we have many talented women, only 36% of them hold senior management positions. 

We have therefore made a commitment to achieve a balance between men and women at the top of the organization among our senior  leaders by 2025. Our approach is based on a culture of inclusion and diversity and an environment that guarantees equal opportunities for everyone. 

Gender balance is recognized as an important means to generate growth and a real force for driving innovation and imagining tomorrow’s healthcare solutions together, but there is still a long way to go, especially for women studying and working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). 

STEM subjects remain the preserve of men. Since Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903, there have only been 17 women who have won a Nobel Prize in physics, chemistry or medicine, compared to 572 men. 

Women make up only 35% of STEM students in higher education and globally account for less than 30% of the world’s researchers. In the UK, they represent 14.4% of all people working in STEM occupations. However, by increasing women in STEM the UK’s labor value could increase by at least £2bn. In Canada, the proportion of women in scientific jobs requiring a college degree stands at 23%, with the number of female engineers even lower at only 12%.

While the choice of subjects for girls is one of the many limiting factors on the road to equality, the barriers in some parts of the world go even deeper. UNESCO estimates that 130 million girls between the age of six and 17 worldwide are not in school and 15 million girls of primary-school age — half of them in sub-Saharan Africa — will never even set foot in a classroom. 

Improving access to education for girls is also crucial to improve global health, as better educated women tend to be healthier, participate more in the formal labor market and earn higher incomes. 

At Sanofi, we recognize the importance of access to healthcare and are taking concrete steps to not only enable access, but also help women working in STEM at the start of their careers. We recently launched a call, in partnership with the Women’s Forum and others, for innovative health technology start-ups to pitch their ideas on how to improve women’s access to health in return for funding and mentoring.

For many of these start-ups, investment is an ongoing struggle, but it is especially so for women-focused start-ups and those that are owed or led by women.

The conversation is changing around us with the next generation considerably more aware of equality at home, in school and at work than ever before. But we want to do more than raise awareness, we are working towards a reality when we no longer have to have the conversation, because gender balance will simply be a part of us and of everything we do.

Want to know more?

Discover Women@Sanofi, a series of interviews that celebrates our highly successful women. As individuals they lead the way and push the boundaries and as a whole they embody our engagement and actions to instill gender equality into the fabric of everything we say and do.