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Only 2% of female pharmacists own pharmacies despite making up 62% of the workforce, survey finds

A survey by the General Pharmaceutical Council found that 13% of men are pharmacy business owners.

Female pharmacist in pharmacy


Although 84% of women on the General Pharmaceutical Council register have employee status, only 2% own pharmacy businesses

Male pharmacists are more likely to own their own business compared to female colleagues, despite there being more women in the profession than men, according to the results of a Great Britain-wide workforce diversity survey.

Women account for 62% of General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) registrants, compared with 38% who identify as men, the Council’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion report, published in December 2019, revealed.

While most women (84%) and most men (65%) have employee status, 13% of men are pharmacy business owners compared with just 2% of women, findings showed.

Pharmacy business owners are also more likely to be older, regardless of gender. Pharmacists aged over 65 years accounted for 21% of business owners compared with only 1% of those aged between 25 years and 34 years.

The survey was sent to all 56,264 pharmacists registered with the GPhC between 11 June and 22 July 2019. The response rate was 22%.

The National Association of Women Pharmacists (NAWP) — the organisation which represents women working in the profession — said the figures were no surprise, but added that a lack of female business owners means the sector risks losing “expertise and vision”.

Christine Heading, an associate lecturer with the Open University, and an executive committee member of the NAWP said: “It is not the absence of role models, but probably the absence of any culture encouraging pharmacists of any gender to own their own pharmacy.”

She told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “In the absence of any encouragement to consider such roles along with training and/or schemes to assist, women may be more likely to follow the paths they are encouraged to follow. For example, in GP surgeries and within other NHS roles.”

She continued: “If a profession has not bothered to look at why there is this underrepresentation; that is an indictment of the profession”.

In a statement, the GPhC said the survey did not look into the background of the findings and so was unable to comment on the factors behind why there were more male than female pharmacy business owners.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20207478

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