Dr. Leen Kawas Highlights Women’s Leadership Achievements and Offers Guidance for Navigating Predominantly Male Industries

Leen Kawas
4 min readApr 3, 2024

Dr. Leen Kawas, general managing partner at Propel Bio Partners and experienced biotechnology professional, highlights ways for female professionals to navigate and excel within traditionally male-dominated fields.

Ideally, every woman will step onto a bias-free playing field where she has an equal chance to accomplish her professional goals. International Women’s Day, celebrated annually on March 8, acknowledges women’s achievements and visualizes a global workplace where every woman can confidently realize her dreams.

Dr. Leen Kawas Shares Insights on Women in Leadership

Leen Kawas, Ph. D. is Propel Bio Partners’ Managing General Partner. Prior to Dr. Kawas’ current role, she earned respect as Athira Pharma’s Chief Executive Officer. During her seven-year tenure, Dr. Kawas successfully managed several drug development projects. In September 2020, she executed the firm’s IPO. Dr. Kawas also obtained over $400 million in capital investments during her time with the firm.

Focus on Effective Female Leaders

Dr. Leen Kawas acknowledges that women often thrive in leadership roles, highlighting key positive attributes that enable them to excel. In addition, she notes that women-led companies often achieve three highly desirable goals. “There’s a lot of research showing when you have a woman on the helm (or part of the executive team), returns are higher, cultures are more inclusive, and innovation has a different, unique flavor,” Dr. Kawas emphasizes.

Dr. Kawas is aware that women in leadership face significant obstacles in male-dominated industries. For reference, in the biotechnology industry, women make up almost half of the workforce. However, considerably less than half of Chief Executive Officers are women. Dr. Kawas details strategies that will help female biotech leaders more effectively navigate this challenging arena.

Female Executives’ Key Leadership Attributes

Effective leaders typically display a signature suite of positive attributes. This holds true regardless of the leader’s industry.

Excellent Communication Skills

Female leaders often possess a talent for good communication. These dynamic women frequently prioritize a transparent culture that encourages and recognizes others’ ideas. Mutual trust, empathy, and active listening promote respectful conflict resolution. This enables the company to move forward in a positive direction.

High Emotional Intelligence

Female leaders typically possess strong emotional intelligence. This enables these executives to build positive team relationships and promote a cohesive workplace culture. When navigating multilayered social interactions, the female leader often draws on an ability to respect everyone’s values and viewpoints. This sets the stage for mutually beneficial goal achievement.

Flexibility and Resilience

Many women have an ability to handle multiple responsibilities, switching gears as the situation dictates. This quality enables them to thrive in challenging environments. When they face a setback, these dynamic women regard the experience as a learning opportunity. This attitude provides team members with a positive role model and fosters continuous improvement.

The Shortage of Female Biotechnology Leaders

The biotechnology industry continues to thrive, as new technologies and applications rewrite certain protocols and standards of care. A visionary leader helms each biotech company. Although women comprise almost half of biotech workers, Dr. Leen Kawas says the industry is severely lacking in women-led firms.

In January 2020, BiopharmaDive highlighted a BIO trade group survey of 100 biotechnology firms. Women comprise approximately half of participating businesses’ workforces. However, women only hold 30 percent of executive positions and 18 percent of Board of Directors seats. Roughly four-fifths of the companies’ CEOs are men, with almost 90 percent being white men.

Interestingly, most surveyed companies are smaller, with almost half being privately owned. These smaller firms are more likely to include women and minorities in leadership roles. Larger biotechnology firms are less likely to exhibit such leadership diversity.

Dr. Leen Kawas Offers 3 Strategies for Navigating Obstacles

Women in leadership roles, or seeking these roles, will be faced with multiple roadblocks and detours. Dr. Leen Kawas details three tactics for addressing these obstacles.

Push Back Against Gender Bias

Dr. Leen Kawas emphasizes that women should fight back against obvious (or subtle) gender bias. First, they should speak out about visible discrepancies. In addition, women should campaign for more women in leadership roles.

Prioritize Skills Development and Self-Advocacy

Dr. Leen Kawas says female leaders should consistently work to enhance their skills. Staying aware of industry trends, completing relevant courses, and attending conferences are effective strategies. Women should also complete challenging projects, highlight their achievements, and build a compelling personal brand.

Engage in Networking and Mentorship

Networking events are often integral to making connections and building relationships. These alliances can play a key role in cultivating mutually beneficial opportunities. Industry conferences provide an excellent way to stay updated on industry trends. Attendees can also gain introductions to potential collaborative partners and industry luminaries.

Dr. Leen Kawas recommends that female leaders (or aspiring leaders) find mentors who can provide guidance and accountability. Well-connected mentors can pave the way for otherwise off-limits opportunities. Together, these alliances can help position female leaders for goal achievement and career advancement.

Contact Info:
Name: Gary Lewis Johnson
Email: Send Email
Organization: Leen Kawas
Website: https://www.leenkawas.com/

Release ID: 89126142

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Originally published at https://markets.businessinsider.com on April 3, 2024.

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