June 14, 2024

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You’ve got fe-mail: The current femtech landscape

Olivia Friett, editor of Medical Plastics News, discusses the lack of female representation in the medtech industry and how we can work on this for the future.

The new year is the perfect time to think about progression and elevation. We all have our own personal goals – usually to be healthier, save money etc. – I, for one, intend to keep at my resolutions for longer than the two months I usually stick to before the novelty wears off.

Personal goals aside, I do have some new plans as the editor of Medical Plastics News that I think could be good for the industry. The ones that come to mind are making more site visits, meeting new clients and working on the FemTech series on The MedTalk Podcast.

The FemTech series is a new series being brought to the podcast in 2024, with the majority of the episodes already planned for the year, I’m so excited to see how it progresses. The first podcast went out in the first week of January, where myself, Nicola Thorn from AND Technology Research and Laurie Rowe from Red Medtech discussed the new TENTO+ compliance platform and of course we delved into the female representation in the industry (or lack thereof). 

The first show I went to was MD&M West in 2022. I had been in the industry for around two weeks, and I instantly noticed a lack of women’s health being represented and to my dismay, this hasn’t changed massively in the two years I have worked in the industry. 

What I can’t seem to understand is the stigma and awkwardness that comes from talking about women’s health devices. Whether it’s a fertility tracker or a menstrual-related device, it’s not a normal thing to discuss in the industry without running the risk of someone clamming up at the idea of a period or menopause or even fertility issues. Can we please normalise being open about this section of the industry – it does affect half the population after all, which is a much higher figure than a lot of other healthcare conditions.

Of course, it has changed dramatically. It was only 120 years ago when women were fighting for the right to vote, 80 years ago when women typically stayed at home whilst men went to fight in WWII – in fact, it was only 11 years ago when the U.S. military removed a ban against women serving in combat position. Today, I see so many women CEOs, founders, board members etc. How does this relate to the medical industry? Well, if women are looked at as equals, it could loosen the stigma that talking about women’s health can be considered taboo.

On International Women’s Day (8th March), the FemTech series episode will be a “not-to-miss”, as it’s a montage of several of the women I’ll be interviewing throughout the year specifically discussing their opinions on the amount of femtech devices on the market and the representation of women in the industry – if this needs improving and if so, how it can be improved. 

To this day, I get excited when I see a women’s health related stand at a show, or I receive a press release about a new femtech start-up company. My goal for 2024 (and for every year after) is that one day rather than get excited about seeing more female representation in the industry, this becomes the norm, which I hope I can help with – the best way to do this, is to talk about it, so let’s talk!


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