May 24 , 12:00 - 12:45

Diversifying the pipeline: Fostering first-gen success in biotech

We all know the workforce in US biotech today is far from representative of the US population. This panel will focus on one critical dimension of this multifaceted problem: ensuring equitable opportunities and support for first-generation students in biotech. First-generation students are individuals who are the first in their families to attend college or university, meaning none of their parents or guardians have completed a bachelor's degree. As trailblazers in their families, they typically lack the familial guidance and support that comes from having parents who have experienced college themselves, which makes it more difficult for them to navigate the higher education system. They also often share intersecting identities with racially minoritized groups, which can compound the difficulties they face. This amounts to a myriad of challenges, including financial constraints, imposter syndrome that manifests as feelings of not belonging or inadequacy, limited access to resources such as networking opportunities and academic support, and navigating complex bureaucratic processes within educational institutions. All these challenges create inequitable barriers to academic success, professional development, and overall well-being of first-generation students, contributing substantially to the continued lack of diversity in the workforce. This makes it crucial to implement targeted interventions and support systems to ensure equitable access to opportunities for first-generation students, and success in their academic and career pursuits. Importantly, this is not solely the responsibility of teaching institutions; research institutions and commercial companies have an important role to play in making that happen. Our panelists will draw from their extensive professional experience to discuss effective strategies and constructive approaches that organizations across the biotech ecosystem can participate in to diversify the pipeline and foster first-generation success in biotech.