We need everyone at the table
Advances in alternative proteins are happening fast as more researchers and funding flow into the field. To build a truly equitable food system, these opportunities can not be limited to just those from a certain gender, race, or socioeconomic status.
Representation of women and other minority groups in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) is not just a moral imperative, it can produce better research and project outcomes that benefit everyone. While STEM fields are commonly acknowledged as essential for national economies, achieving gender equality in STEM has proven elusive for most countries, regardless of their level of development.
According to UNESCO, female researchers are typically given smaller research grants than their male colleagues— and while they represent 33.3% of all researchers, only 12% of members of national science academies are women. Female researchers also tend to have shorter, less well-paid careers.
The alternative protein industry is not immune to these larger cultural inequities. In the 2021 edition of the industry report by the Vegan Women Summit, it was revealed that 80% of women founders in the alternative protein, plant-based, and foodtech sectors surveyed have encountered gender bias in fundraising over the past year. This bias has hindered their ability to secure investor funding.
For minority and LGBTQ+ women, the gap between the global scientific community and the alternative protein industry is even more stark.
Those of us committed to building a more sustainable food system must remember that we need everyone at the table to enact lasting and meaningful change. We are proud to work with brilliant women around the world who are doing just that.
Meet four women leaving their mark on the scientific ecosystem of alternative proteins.