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Empowering women in STEM who are making a difference


Empowering women in STEM who are making a difference

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In the UK, men outnumber women three-to-one in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professions1. Upon university graduation, women take up only 26% of STEM degrees and once in the workforce, only one in ten STEM managers are women1. In the last 5 years, the nation has seen an uptick in women joining the STEM industry and the numbers continue to rise2. Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) found that the STEM sector has continuously grown at a rapid rate since 2017 with over one million women now working within the industry2.

Every day, women across the globe work in STEM careers and contribute to new discoveries, advancements, and breakthroughs. These women become the next generation of role models for those interested in STEM. We spoke with eight women in Pfizer UK who are defying the odds and making a difference in science and technology.

Meet Ann Beeyo

"I realised I was very curious about how things work from an early age” says Ann Beeyo, API Manufacturing Technology/Process Engineer. “Growing up in Uganda, I was always finding things and trying to either fix them or figure out how they worked.” This curiosity fuelled Ann to choose STEM subjects during her schooling, which led her to the attainment of a master’s degree in chemical engineering.

Having been with Pfizer since 2021, Ann gets to work on innovative and groundbreaking projects as part of her role. “Exploring new manufacturing technologies to deliver Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) with enhanced speed, quality, cost and sustainability is extremely motivating for me and allows me to contribute towards the breakthrough technology projects within Chemical Research and Development at Pfizer UK.”

When asked what excites her about the future of STEM, Ann stated, “Working with Pfizer partners, Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and BlackPharma, I’m able to encourage young people to pursue a career in STEM. Would I recommend a career in STEM? Absolutely!” Ann offers a piece of advice for young women looking to enter the STEM industry, “Science is about trial and error. The worst thing that could happen is that you learn from your experience. Pursuing the things that scare me the most has led to my biggest opportunities for personal and professional growth.”

Meet Malak Wehbe

“Growing up with parents working in STEM, I knew I wanted to follow the same path!” Malak Wehbe, Senior Scientist, Pharmaceutical Product Stability Specialist grew up loving STEM as a child and has gone on to achieve both a master’s and PhD in Chemical Engineering.

Having completed her PhD on bridging the concepts of chemical engineering and physical chemistry as applied to pharmaceuticals, Malak is currently assessing the stability of new drugs to determine their appropriate storage conditions and packaging. Focusing on details like this is what helps make a difference in the pharmaceutical industry. When looking back on her career, Malak believes young women looking to get into STEM should, “Aspire to break barriers and societal norms. A STEM career involves educated risks, a positive outlook and resilience to pursue a career in a male dominated industry.”

“Pfizer are building a more inclusive environment for colleagues by addressing the gender pay gap, hiring women into senior positions and addressing the ethnicity pay gap. This is particularly encouraging for young women, of all backgrounds, to pursue a career in STEM.” Malak is an active voice for promoting gender equality in STEM and the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the workforce.

Meet Juliette Kirk

“Supporting the development of life changing treatments is extremely motivating and brings purpose.” Juliette Kirk, Study Management Group Lead – Oncology has been with Pfizer for the last 25 years. Having worked in a variety of roles in the business, Juliette now focuses on supporting a team in oncology clinical trial set-up and executing the trials at study team and study site levels to ensure Pfizer’s standards and operational excellence are being met.

Having worked in four different departments throughout the years, Juliette has been involved in a wide variety of projects including being a part of the Pfizer Women’s Resource (PWR), supporting critical breakthroughs and maintaining the high standards at which Pfizer operates. “Every day is different. Working with a wonderful mix of people who I can learn from and exploring opportunities to enhance work experiences for colleagues including STEM work in the community and diversity and inclusion groups.”

When asked what her advice is to young women looking to get into STEM, she replied, “Believe that it could be you doing the job for which you are aspiring! Seek out opportunities to learn as much as you can and grow your behavioural skills. Once you begin your STEM career, do your best to seek out mentors and those that champion you.”

Meet Maiara Camotti Montanha

Growing up in Brazil, Maiara was influenced by her enthusiastic and strong-minded mother and grandmothers who taught her that people can be anything they want to be if love and dedication is put into what you do. “There is space in the industry for a variety of different skills including problem-solving and critical thinking, all of which are required to help improve people’s lives. There is always something to share and always something to learn and it is wonderful.”

Working in the Drug Product Design department, Maiara is part of a multidisciplinary team and can explore a variety of pharmaceutical areas within her role. She proudly provides support in the biopharmaceutics sector for new drug development and research. “My PhD helped me to improve my technical skills but also enabled me to develop soft skills such as flexibility, resilience, public speaking, teamwork and accepting my mistakes and failures.”

Maiara is at the heart of continuous medicine research and development and encourages young women to pursue a career in STEM. “We are the protagonists of our history. Go and study, put all your effort into what you love and be dedicated to it, and don’t forget to enjoy every moment along the way. Sometimes your failures are part of a bigger achievement.”

Meet Rachel Ziregbe

Having been inspired by her grandfather, a chemical engineer, and a fantastic chemistry teacher, Rachel chased a career in STEM. She wanted to make a difference in the industry and stated, “I personally suffer from allergies and thought perhaps one day I could discover a cure.”

Working as a Quality Compliance Engineer for the Device Centre of Excellence (DCoE) division, Rachel expresses, “Everyday I’m learning something new. I love seeing how science and engineering is everchanging and the discoveries we work so hard to find really can change someone’s life.” Rachel has been with Pfizer for one year and is inspired by, “seeing women in senior leadership roles within pharmaceuticals and other sectors. It’s inspiring to be surrounded by so many knowledgeable, self-driven women and it encourages me to take advantage of any opportunities available. Always advocate yourself!”

Rachel successfully supports compliance and risk management activities globally for Pfizer’s autoinjector devices. She encourages those who are interested in STEM to “have transferable skills and scientific curiosity. Be confident in what you bring to the table and express your passion for the subject.” When looking towards the future of STEM, Rachel states, “My hope is that as technology evolves, we can continue to break down barriers for underrepresented groups and make treatments more accessible for patients worldwide.”

Meet Emma Clifton-Brown

Leading the Health and Value (H&V) team at Pfizer UK, Emma is focused on pushing the boundaries of value to accelerate and optimise patient access to Pfizer’s breakthroughs. “I have always loved science; however, I did not know anything about the the pharmaceutical industry until after university. Now I get to learn about new medicines and vaccines, the evidence and science behind them, and to build the strategy for demonstrating the value of those medicines to UK decision-makers.”

Having been at Pfizer for the last 12 years, Emma reflects on how far the company has come. “I am incredibly proud of the amazing culture we have created at Pfizer and in my team. Within H&V we've created new opportunities at more senior and junior levels to attract and retain the best talent and my priority is to create a team that is happy and empowered."

“I’m inspired by my team who show up every day in the face of a tough environment to fight for patients to get access to medicines and vaccines.” Healthcare and medicines continue to evolve and Emma states, "I'm excited about how science and technology might drive radical changes to the ways in which new medicines are developed and assessed. Also, the data we may be able to access and use in the future can really help us to understand the true value of medicines and optimise their delivery in the UK and globally."

Meet Smita Robinson

Joining the business over 23 years ago and having held various positions, Smita now acts as the Digital Centre Head, within the International Labelling Group. Smita and her ever growing team support the delivery of label updates on medicines on a global scale. “My inspiration comes from patients and knowing that what my team and I are doing is helping patients across the nation.”

As medicines and technology develop, Smita and her team play a critical part when it comes to the future, including e-labelling. She works closely with industry partners to lead the conversation in the UK regarding e-labelling and has even co-hosted a Pfizer funded forum with the NHS discussing the future of patient information and how to progressively move forward. “We are entering a new era of medicine. What we can do for patients with the power of AI, real world evidence and digitisation is extremely exciting and has countless possibilities to do better for and help more patients across the nation.”  

Smita is at the forefront of breakthrough technologies and procedures to advance modern day medicine. Together with her team their persistence and determination are unrivalled. “I whole heartedly encourage anyone to get into STEM. The possibilities are endless and being a part of making a difference in society is incredibly rewarding. You’ll never be short of a challenge!”

Meet Elizabeth Collins

Starting with Pfizer as an undergraduate in university and following up with Pfizer as her PhD sponsor, Liz has now seen over 20 years with the business! Operating as the Category Lead in Anti-Infectives and Senior Pharmaceutical Sciences Leader at the Pfizer Sandwich site, Liz has been a part of a considerable number of breakthroughs.

Most recently she has been a part of the team developing a new antiviral. “It’s been an honour being part of this drug development story. Leading the pharmaceutical sciences team, challenging them to market as quickly as possible. The development was the quickest for a small molecule and has set a high industry standard. ”When asked what motivates Liz she stated, “When I listen to our scientists and leaders talk with passion about the piece of the puzzle they are working on, knowing that all the pieces will add up to a product to make patients' lives better, this really inspires me.”

Liz and her team are at the forefront of emerging pharmaceutical technologies and have the honourable job of better understanding how medicines are best used in the hands of the patient. “Developing digital and modelling solutions to compliment practical skills and accelerate drug development is critical. The industry is getting closer to the patient – through the digital revolution, we can now understand what a patient needs in real time. It is extremely exciting. We are lucky to have access to the best digital innovation and technology, coupled with the smartest and brightest of people, allowing us to deliver quality medicines to patients around the world.”

The future of women in STEM

Gender equity in STEM is important for a wide variety of reasons. The British Council acknowledges the need for women in STEM and have established a series of programs to support opportunities3. Encouraging and empowering women across the country to fulfill STEM careers could attract the next generation of talent who could hold the key to saving the planet3.

Pfizer UK proudly partners with the Women into Science and Engineering (WISE) group and works together to ensure career opportunities within our organisation reach as wide and diverse a group as possible. We aim to be one of the best employers for female STEM talent and are committed to integrating equity and inclusivity into all aspects of our business.


  1. SeeJane. Closing-the-stem-gender-gap-uk-report. Accessed May 2023.
  2. Stem Women. Women In STEM Statistics. Accessed May 2023.
  3. BBC. Women in STEM. Accessed May 2023.
PP-UNP-GBR-5351 / June 2023
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