Gender equality in the medtech sector: can Europe catch up?

  • Posted on 04.03.2021

Gender equality in the medtech sector: can Europe catch up?


Sophie Dutilloy

President International Vision Care Franchise at Alcon


I started my career in consumer goods in 1995, then medtech in 2005, and have seen attitudes to gender equality evolve, with growing awareness about the gender gap, and the importance of working with diverse teams.

US companies in particular have been actively promoting diversity and inclusion in the past 10 years or so. In Europe, these programmes do not always translate well, and a focus on gender is not always well received.

I believe mindsets are changing in Europe, thanks to awareness sessions on unconscious bias,
for instance. More leaders are waving the flag for diversity and requesting diverse slates when hiring for senior leadership roles.

But there is still a lot of room to do better. Every week I find myself in meetings with all male colleagues. It’s a complex issue and there is no silver bullet. However, I believe it starts with every leader making it a priority to inspire and support more women to lean into their careers.

Speaking up for diversity

Women play a critical role in helping close the gender gap in medtech. When I first started to access senior leadership positions, and realised I was one of very few women, I was nervous about overtly promoting the importance of female leadership for fear that people would think I was in my job just because I am a woman. I know other women can feel that way too.

Over the years, I have changed my mind completely and realised that I needed to take a stance and speak up for other women. I took active roles in groups promoting programmes to help more women access leadership positions, and I speak up for gender diversity every opportunity I get.

At this point in my career, I make a point to seek out and support other women with potential to move up in my organisation, and in other companies. I help the best I can with advice, mentoring, providing coaching or building networks. I have equal representation of men and women on my leadership team. On a personal note, I also encourage my daughter to be confident in her abilities and ambitious with her goals in life.

MedTech needs women

The medtech industry needs servant leaders who put customers first as well as envision a better future. It’s a great place to work for women and men equally. We should see more women not just work in medtech but also lead teams and businesses that will impact healthcare.

This sector is very dynamic, and innovation is accelerating. What I love about the medtech sector, is how its products and solutions impact people’s well-being. For example, connected devices in diabetes care help people better self-manage their condition while cataract operations are life changing. Thanks to her presbyopia correcting implant, my 86-year-old mother sees perfectly – better than I do!

So, we look for talent who can not only embrace new technologies, but also demonstrate active listening skills, excellent communication and the desire to work in teams and help others.

There are so many talented women out there who can transform this industry for the better. I hope we see more of them lead us in the future.



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