In a world where entrepreneurship knows no gender, remarkable women have risen to the occasion, taking ownership of problems, crafting ingenious solutions, serving communities, and achieving astounding success. While their names might not be as widely recognized as some, it's high time to acquaint ourselves with these trailblazing women who have paved the way for the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Today, The world of healthcare entrepreneurship is undergoing a seismic shift. The healthcare industry, which has a long history of tradition, is currently at a crucial turning point. Technology, once a supporting element, has now become its core, leading us away from traditional hospital care towards personalized medicine. Yet, amid this transformative journey, women entrepreneurs who are instrumental in reshaping healthcare remain underrepresented in the startup community. They persistently encounter barriers to funding and face uphill battles in advancing their careers.
This blog post is dedicated to these visionary women who have shattered the glass ceiling and disrupted entrenched healthcare norms. Through innovative solutions, groundbreaking startups, and an unwavering commitment to improving healthcare outcomes, they have etched their names into the annals of the industry. Join us in celebrating these remarkable female entrepreneurs who are forging the path toward a healthier, more equitable future for all.
The femtech market is poised for significant growth, with expectations to surpass $75 billion by 2025, sporting a CAGR of 13.3% from 2020 to 2025. Despite its diversity, Femtech companies face a financial hurdle, as 85% of them generate annual revenues of less than $10 million, as reported by Femtech Analytics. Venture funding for women-led startups has been dishearteningly low, dropping from 2.8% in 2019 to a mere 2% in 2022. Meanwhile, mixed-gender founding teams have also seen a decline in venture capital support, dipping from 17.1% in 2021 to 15.6% in Q1 2022, according to the Q1 2022 PitchBook NVCA Venture Monitor.
These statistics are sobering but not entirely surprising when considering the demographics of those making investment decisions in the venture capital world. Merely 12% of decision-makers at venture capital firms are women, with most firms lacking a single female partner. Female founding partners are a rarity, making up a mere 2.4% of all partners in these firms. Interestingly, when women venture capitalists are at the helm, investments in female-founded teams are twice as likely to occur.
So, why don't women invest in other women? An analysis from Forbes' list of Top Angel Investors and Crunchbase Data reveals that 72% of female angel investors are first-time investors, and 89% of them enter the investment arena through network introductions, suggesting they may not actively seek out investment opportunities.
However, the healthcare industry is witnessing progress towards gender equality, albeit with more work to be done. A study by Koning et al. examined U.S. biomedical patents filed between 1976 and 2010, revealing that patents with all-female inventor teams are 35% more likely to focus on women's health compared to all-male teams. In recent years, there has been a surge in the number of FemTech companies founded by women. Over 70% of FemTech companies analyzed had at least one female founder, a stark contrast to the 20% norm for new startups, according to McKinsey.
Furthermore, PitchBook's study highlights that companies with all-female founding teams raised approximately $800 million, constituting 2.1% of the estimated $37 billion invested in U.S. startups in Q1 2023. This represents a significant improvement from 2018, when such startups secured a mere $2.3 million in funding per round. Notably, women-funded startups tend to deliver higher revenue, with a Boston Consulting Group analysis revealing they generate more than two times as much revenue per dollar invested. This could be attributed to the rigorous scrutiny these businesses face during funding rounds, leading to robust business plans, and the development of essential entrepreneurial skills like resilience and adaptability among women founders.
Although precise data is often elusive, anecdotal evidence suggests a noticeable surge in women taking the lead in the healthcare and life sciences sectors. Despite the persistent gender gap, with women constituting only 13% of CEOs and 30% of C-suite members in healthcare leadership, these industries exhibit more equitable representation than fields such as financial services or technology.
President and CEO, Methodist Hospital and Methodist Women’s Hospital
Abboud embarked on her professional journey in 1996 as a critical care also known as ICU staff nurse at Methodist Health. Over the course of the next two decades, she ascended through the ranks, assuming various leadership positions within the organization. Eventually, she earned the prestigious role of President and CEO of Methodist Hospital and Methodist Women's Hospital, located in Omaha, Nebraska.
Notably, Abboud recently spearheaded a remarkable $18.6 million renovation project at Methodist Hospital, which included the incorporation of two new units. Her dedication to healthcare leadership is further underscored by her recognition as a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
In addition to her exemplary career achievements, Abboud has been actively engaged in giving back to the community. She has served on the boards of esteemed organizations such as the Nebraska Hospital Association, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the American Cancer Society.
Co-founder and CEO, Incredible Health
In 2017, Abuzeid took a significant step in her career by co-founding a San Francisco-based hiring platform. This platform serves as a valuable resource for nurses, aiding them in discovering the most suitable job opportunities within health systems. Under her visionary leadership, the startup has achieved remarkable growth, securing an impressive $80 million in funding in August 2022. This substantial investment propelled the company's valuation to soar above the $1 billion mark.
What makes Abuzeid's journey even more remarkable is her status as one of the few Black women at the helm of a venture-backed "unicorn" startup within the health tech industry. She is fervently committed to championing the pivotal role that diverse executive teams can play in propelling innovation within the sector.
CEO, Walgreens Boots Alliance
Brewer assumed the role of CEO at the Deerfield, Illinois-based pharmacy chain in 2021. Under her leadership, the company has embarked on a robust expansion into the healthcare sector. This includes a substantial $5.2 billion investment in the primary care company VillageMD, as well as the complete acquisitions of Shields Health Solutions and the post-acute care company CareCentrix.
Beyond her strategic vision for Walgreens, Brewer has been instrumental in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within the organization. She has fostered partnerships aimed at improving access to services for vulnerable populations. Additionally, Brewer serves as the Chair of the Board of Trustees for Spelman College, further demonstrating her commitment to education and community empowerment.
Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
In 2021, Brooks-LaSure assumed the role of leading the agency, bringing with her a wealth of experience from a distinguished career spanning both the public and private sectors. Under her stewardship, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have overseen significant changes with far-reaching implications for the healthcare sector.
These changes include the finalization of rules pertaining to the standardization of Affordable Care Act plans, as well as determining the reimbursement rates for hospital outpatient providers. Notably, Brooks-LaSure has played a pivotal role in steering CMS toward the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act's Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program.
Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer/Chief Responsibility Officer
Tania Saison holds the distinguished position of Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer/Chief Responsibility Officer at Edwards Life Sciences. Edwards Life Sciences is a renowned global leader in developing medical innovations with a patient-centric focus, specializing in areas such as structural heart disease, critical care, and surgical monitoring.
In her role as Chief Responsibility Officer (CRO), Saison assumes responsibility for the company's Global Integrity Program. Her leadership in this area enjoys strong support from the Board of Directors and the executive leadership team. The Global Integrity Program is instrumental in establishing a comprehensive framework aimed at ensuring compliance with all relevant laws, regulations, and standards of conduct. Moreover, it plays a pivotal role in reinforcing Edwards' corporate culture, one rooted in integrity and ethical practices. As a testament to her significance within the organization, Saison is a valued member of the global senior leadership team.
Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer
Elizabeth Sebern McCombs holds the esteemed position of Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at BD (Becton, Dickinson, and Company), a prominent global medical technology firm headquartered in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. In her capacity as CTO, she assumes a pivotal role in spearheading all research and development (R&D) initiatives for BD.
This encompasses driving innovation and the development of new products, overseeing the entire product life cycle from initial concepts to market launch, and ensuring the continued success of the existing product portfolio.
McCombs' influence extends beyond her specific role, as she is also a distinguished member of the BD Executive Leadership Team. Her leadership and expertise play a crucial role in shaping BD's contributions to the medical technology landscape and its commitment to advancing healthcare solutions worldwide.
Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna made history with their groundbreaking discovery in the field of molecular biology. Their collaborative work led to the development of the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology, which has fundamentally transformed the way we approach genome engineering and genetic research.
One of the most remarkable aspects of their work was the recognition that by designing a synthetic piece of RNA called "guide RNA" with a sequence complementary to a specific DNA segment, they could direct the Cas9 protein to the exact spot on the genome where they wanted to make edits. This process made it possible to add, delete, or replace genetic material with unprecedented accuracy and efficiency.
In recognition of their groundbreaking work, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020.
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Jennifer Ernst holds the esteemed position of Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Tivic Health, a healthtech company that has transitioned into the commercial phase, specializing in the advancement of bioelectronic medicine. With over two decades of experience in the field, Ernst has demonstrated a remarkable track record in commercializing pioneering innovations and has a history of forging new markets from emerging technologies.
Prior to her role at Tivic Health, Ernst served as the CEO of the U.S. subsidiary of Thin Film Electronics. During her tenure, she played a pivotal role in the company's remarkable growth, overseeing its expansion from a team of eight individuals to a workforce of 130. Under her leadership, the company achieved a market capitalization of $480 million in just five years, a testament to her strategic vision and leadership prowess. Additionally, Ernst was instrumental in launching internationally acclaimed products that garnered prestigious awards.
Jennifer Ernst's career has been marked by her ability to drive innovation, develop markets, and lead companies to achieve exceptional growth and success in the ever-evolving landscape of technology and healthcare. Her contributions to the field are a testament to her dedication to advancing healthcare solutions through cutting-edge technology.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Sandra Hirsch holds a significant role as the third founding member of Zyris, Inc., and her leadership as President and Chief Executive Officer has been pivotal in transforming the company's trajectory. Under her guidance, Zyris has evolved from a struggling startup to become the global leader in dental isolation. The company has successfully distributed its innovative Isolite products not only throughout North America but also in more than 20 countries around the world.
Hirsch's vision and dedication to improving the dental experience for both patients and clinicians have been defining characteristics of her leadership at Zyris. She is deeply committed to her family, the Zyris team, and the unwavering resolve to bring about lasting change in the field of dentistry.
President and CEO, PeaceHealth
Over the course of the last eight years, Dunne has dedicated her efforts to the transformation of a nonprofit Catholic health system into a patient-centered integrated care model. At the helm of this initiative, she has implemented a comprehensive operational excellence plan with a keen focus on enhancing services, optimizing labor management, and fostering caregiver engagement. Her leadership has resulted in notable improvements in the organization's financial margins, all while upholding exceptionally high standards of quality.
One of Dunne's noteworthy accomplishments during her tenure has been her commitment to advancing professional opportunities for women within the system. Remarkably, over 71% of the system's leaders are now women, underscoring her dedication to promoting gender diversity and inclusivity in healthcare leadership. Her work not only exemplifies a commitment to healthcare excellence but also highlights the importance of fostering a diverse and inclusive healthcare workforce.
The world of healthcare and medical technology has been significantly shaped and transformed by the remarkable women we've highlighted in this blog. From pioneers in genome editing like Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna to leaders in the healthcare industry like Jennifer Ernst, Sandra Hirsch, and the transformative work of individuals such as Tania Saison, Elizabeth Sebern McCombs, and many others, their contributions have left a lasting mark on their respective fields.
These women have not only broken through barriers but have shattered stereotypical norms, leading the way for future generations of innovators and leaders. They've redefined the boundaries of what's possible in healthcare, from revolutionizing gene editing techniques to advancing medical technology, and from championing diversity in leadership to ensuring optimum integrity and compliance. Their stories serve as a powerful reminder of the invaluable impact that women continue to make in healthcare and medical innovation.