Charlotte Owens spoke with the Springer Nature Black Employee Network about her career path in biomedicine. She is now a vice president at the pharmaceutical company Takeda and head of its R&D Center for Health Equity and Patient Affairs, as well as an adjunct assistant professor at Morehouse School of Medicine. She was previously therapeutic area lead for women’s health at the pharmaceutical company AbbVie.

Owens is all too aware of the lack of Black representation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and is optimistic that we are moving in the right direction. “But we need to continue to work in tangible ways to make things better,” she says. People from underrepresented groups appreciate diversity in the field, Owens says, yet she knows that unfortunately this has not been a “mainstream topic.” She observes that “until recently, it was taboo to discuss [race] openly. There is still a lack of comfort for many on this subject—across all fields of STEM.”

Owens emphasizes the importance of mentorship and says she appreciates the opportunities that have been presented to her by people who supported her career from the beginning. Not everyone in the field will give up their time and provide real opportunities and steps for others to climb, she adds, but “that’s what my mentors and sponsors have done for me.”

Owens encourages more people to extend themselves to help others pursue careers in STEM fields and have the same opportunities as people from better represented backgrounds and groups.

This video presents highlights of the conversation:

And you can watch the entire interview here.

This discussion is part of a speaker series hosted by the Black Employee Network at Springer Nature, the publisher of Scientific American. The series aims to highlight Black contributions to STEM—a history that has not been widely recognized. It will cover career paths, role models and mentorship, and diversity in STEM.