Posted from San Francisco Business Times

Click here to see the slideshow

The lineup of life sciences conferences seems to be ever growing and, inevitably, I have to make a call about which ones to attend and which ones not to cover.

One that I wish I could have attended was MedtechVISION 2011 — the first conference designed by and for women in the medtech industry — in Menlo Park on Sept. 15-16. It featured some established and up-and-coming medical device and medical technology players, including Ashley Ledbetter Dombkowski of 23andMe, Beckie Robertson of Versant Ventures, Lisa Earnhardt of Intersect ENT and Ferolyn Powell of Abbott Vascular.

But the slideshow to the right isn’t just my mea culpa for missing the conference. Considering Luke Timmerman’s Xconomy glass-ceiling piece today, it’s a further sign that corner offices in life sciences businesses in the Bay Area frequently are occupied by women. What’s more, there seems to be a growing number of women — at least in my limited experience — a few rungs down.

Consider Susan Desmond-Hellmann at the University of California, San Francisco; Kim Popovits at Genomic Health Inc.; Lisa Earnhardt, who I recently featured in a Q&A about Intersect ENT; Gail Maderis at BayBio; Mary Haak-Frendscho at Takeda San Francisco; Sara Kenkare-Mitra, head of development science at Genentech Inc.; and Emma Lees at Novartis.

(Many of those executives were featured in the San Francisco Business Times’ “Most Influential Women” publication this spring.)

Meanwhile, a San Francisco chapter of Women In Bio is organizing.

MedtechVISION, for one, has grown organically from a small group of former colleagues at Guidant Corp. in Santa Clara to a conference lineup this year that included 30 speakers — all of them women in medtech, law, venture capital and other supporting fields.

Whether women are in those positions with increasing frequency is another question, but, as Timmerman also notes, networking events don’t hurt.