Help us find the unsung women powering pharmacy forward
There are far too many female pharmacy professionals doing brilliant things that are going unrecognised. Help us change that.
Open access article
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has made this editorial free to access in order to help promote greater inclusion and diversity in the profession
In June 1947, Jean Kennedy Irvine, the first woman president of The Royal Pharmaceutical Society Council, declared in her presidency acceptance speech that if anyone doubted the place of women in pharmacy history, they should read about it.
“There is an impression that women are something new in pharmacy,” she stated, “but nothing could be further from the truth.”
Women today lead the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English and Welsh national pharmacy boards and hold senior positions within various pharmacy organisations, including the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies and National Pharmacy Association. Yet Kennedy Irvine’s words still ring true.
Pharmacy is not immune to the trends in wider society, and despite some shining examples of female leadership, research shows that only a third of senior positions in pharmacy are held by women. This is despite women making up nearly two-thirds of the profession overall.
And this translates to pay. Data from 1,100 full-time pharmacists, published by The Pharmaceutical Journal in November 2018, suggested for the first time a statistically significant median pay gap of 6.4% in favour of male pharmacists. This is less than the national average of 8.9% but still means that, on average, female pharmacists could earn £3,328 less per year than men.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society launched a pharmacy inclusion and diversity programme in August 2019, but there is much more to do. Indeed, according to the Sex & Power 2020 report, published in January 2020 by gender equality and women’s rights charity, the Fawcett Society, it will take decades for women to equal men in most areas of public life, including political influence, economic gain, health and education. The situation is even more dire for women from an ethnic minority group.
It is these deficits that have prompted The Pharmaceutical Journal to introduce the ‘Women to Watch’ initiative in 2020, but we need your help.
Studies agree that a major factor holding women back from shattering the glass ceiling is that they are less likely to shout about their achievements than men, even if well-deserved. Therefore, we are announcing a drive for nominations to recognise women making a measurable, positive difference to colleagues or patients in pharmacy, but who are yet to receive any national recognition.
Do you know a female pharmacy professional who always advocates for those who need it, even if it makes her unpopular? Have you — or someone you work with — overcome challenges and opposition to new ideas, even if they were the right ones all along? Is there a woman that inspires you and always makes things happen?
We want to hear about pharmacy students, trainees, technicians, counter staff or pharmacists, at any stage in their career, whose bravery, ingenuity and creativity should be rewarded.
Throughout history, women have struggled to receive the same recognition and pay as their male counterparts, and we know that there are too many women in pharmacy doing brilliant things that are going unrecognised. Help us to change that and nominate someone you know today, so they can be celebrated and heralded as a source of inspiration for the next generation of women to watch in pharmacy.
- Shortlisting for The Pharmaceutical Journal Women to Watch campaign has been postponed due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19, but nominations are still open. If you know a female in pharmacy who is committed to helping others, especially during these uncertain times, nominate her here. Nominees will be assessed by The Pharmaceutical Journal team and a panel of external contributors.
Words of support from leaders in pharmacy:
“ It’s my great pleasure to support the The Pharmaceutical Journal Women to Watch initiative. It has been a longstanding issue that women remain underrepresented in senior roles. Identifying and celebrating our Women to Watch will help bring a real appreciation of the roles played by female leaders in pharmacy, at all levels of the profession, and the difference they are making to patients and healthcare. I’m looking forward to hearing all about our as yet undiscovered female role models!”
— Raliat Onatade, group chief pharmacist and clinical director for medicines optimisation at Barts Health NHS Trust.
“An initiative which encourages women to promote themselves and the positive contributions they make to the profession can only be a positive thing.”
— Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive officer of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies.
“I hope that through an initiative such as this, women will not only be recognised for thriving but at the same time will inspire and encourage other women.”
— Diane Ashiru-Oredope, lead pharmacist, antimicrobial resistance and healthcare associated infections division, Public Health England.
“I am proud to be an ally for an initiative for greater recognition of women in pharmacy, especially looking through an intersectional lens that sees more than one protected characteristic.”
— Mohammed Hussein, senior clinical lead for NHS Digital and fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.
“Celebrating the specific achievements of women is still seen by some as unnecessary, unhelpful, or even counterproductive, but it is because of these continuing attitudes that we should continue to do so.”
— Helen Pinney, pharmacy technician and service development officer for the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee.
“It’s great to be able to recognise, celebrate and shout about the contributions that women make in all the many walks of pharmacy, including education and research. Go on women academics and researchers – nominate your colleagues and yourselves!”
— Marcus Rattray, pharmacy educator and health researcher based in Bradford.
“The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has undertaken a commitment to champion inclusion and diversity for the pharmacy profession. ‘The Pharmaceutical Journal Women to Watch’ campaign is a great opportunity to recognise the women in pharmacy who are doing an amazing job everyday, but may not necessarily see themselves as future leaders.”
— Amandeep Doll, Royal Pharmaceutical Society inclusion and diversity co-ordinator.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society launched its pharmacy inclusion and diversity programme in August 2019. Find out more about what the Society is doing for members here.
Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20207520
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