In my role as vice president of DEI and Strategic Growth at Schrödinger, an important part of my job is to promote gender equity in science and technology. Schrödinger is a computational molecular discovery company with a mission of improving human health and quality of life by transforming the way therapeutics and materials are discovered. This lofty goal has kept us at the forefront of scientific discovery for more than 30 years. Pushing the boundaries of possibility in science requires a remarkably dedicated, creative, and collaborative team. Assembling that kind of team can only be accomplished through an intentional focus on recruiting people from diverse backgrounds and experiences.
In leading our company’s recruitment efforts, I ensure that a focus on gender equity is integrated into our hiring processes. We know that investing in diversity creates value for our company and stakeholders, and that diverse teams come up with better, more innovative ideas. But most importantly, we make gender equity a priority because it’s the right thing to do.
Taking Action on Gender Equity
In 2022, with the support of Pat Lorton, Schrödinger’s chief technology officer, and in collaboration with Maris Schwarz, senior director of total rewards, we formed Schrödinger’s Gender Diversity Action Committee. The committee’s initial focus has been increasing gender diversity on our engineering teams—a major challenge as we compete with technology leaders such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google for highly skilled computer scientists, developers, and engineers.
One of the ways we’ve worked to address this recruiting challenge is through organizing events specifically aimed at empowering underrepresented genders. Our first event, called Hacking The Gender Stack, was a two-day hackathon for women and non-binary engineers with varying levels of science and coding experience from local NYC universities, including Columbia University, New York University, and Fordham University. We invited a select group of applicants to our headquarters in Times Square to network, code side-by-side with Schrödinger scientists, and learn more about our ongoing projects and open roles.
This event was successful on multiple levels. It provided women and non-binary engineers an opportunity to hone their skills and network with peers and potential mentors. It also set the foundation for a diverse pipeline of talent to fill open roles at our company. Of the 24 hackathon participants, five joined Schrödinger as summer interns.
In a subsequent event, called Catalyzing Gender Equity at Schrödinger: Early Careers in Computational Sciences, we hosted 25 women and non-binary Ph.D. students and postdocs at our NYC office for a two-day symposium. During the event, participants completed interactive molecular modeling workshops led by our education team, heard from senior developers and C-Suite executives during an employee panel, and most importantly, connected with and learned from the other women and non-binary scientists that attended the event. Many of the participants came from labs with very few women or non-binary individuals, and were both grateful and inspired to be part of such a diverse cohort. We were honored to help bridge those connections and facilitate friendships that women and non-binary scientists often don’t experience during their time in graduate school. We hope that through this event, participants will stay connected and consider applying for open positions in the future.
As a company, it is our responsibility to promote gender equity at Schrödinger and beyond. While the world and our industry has made great progress, today there is still a persistent lack of adequate representation among women and non-binary individuals in many science and technology industries. In the United States, women account for only 25 percent of workers in computer science roles and only 15 percent of the engineering workforce, according to a recent report from the Pew Research Center.
Our efforts alone will not solve the lack of gender diversity in science and technology, but we know it’s important to serve as a catalyst for change. My hope is that the events we’ve organized so far at Schrödinger are just the beginning, and that they spark new initiatives to lift up other marginalized groups.
Schrödinger is excited to host our second annual hackathon on January 11-12 in support of the diverse community of women and non-binary engineers in NYC. Learn more and apply: https://events.bizzabo.com/HGS2024