Professor Claire Anderson

There is still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in pharmacy in both academia and profession, Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) president Claire Anderson said while addressing a webinar on ‘Driving equality for women in pharmacy today (November 19).

Sharing her personal experience, Anderson, who earlier worked as an academic, said: “I was the first ever female professor in the School of Pharmacy at Nottingham when I was appointed as professor in 2003, and at that point, only 11 per cent of professors in my university were female.”

She acknowledged that the situation has changed since then, but “there’s still a very long way to go to achieve gender equity in most of academia, and in pharmacy, in particular.”

She added that the profession has ensured safe spaces for women but noted that is not enough, as gender equity is vital to achieve healthier and safer societies.

“And although our work on equality, diversity and inclusion is progressing very well, I think we’re still not there. It’s a journey and there’s much to be achieved.”

Quoting a media investigation RPS CEO Paul Bennett said that only two per cent of pharmacy business owners are women, while 13 per cent are men.

He said: “Women in senior pharmacy leadership positions across our profession have much lower numbers than they would be if they reflect the numbers of females in the profession. And the bias remains in systems and structures, that mean the gender parity is not achieved.”

He added that gender disparity issue has been highlighted for over several years now, therefore, “we hold all of us in any position of influence to champion inclusive leadership and to support women from diverse backgrounds across all levels of policy to become leaders.”

It is the moral obligation of leaders to “use their influence to champion the rights of their female colleagues to grow in their careers and advanced in positions of leadership.”

Approving the view that gender equality in the pharmacy sector is still a far-fetched dream, head of Equality & Inclusion at NHS England, Harprit Hockley said that 78 per cent of the NHS staff comprises women but “that’s not reflected in our senior roles or nor is it reflected in the decision making process.”

She explained that NHS has tried to debias individuals through training but noted that “one hour to three hours of training is not going to dismantle decades of that negative narrative.”

Therefore, the thrust needs to be on bringing in systematic changes and breaking down the barriers that obstruct achieving gender equity.

If you want to share your stories and/or experiences with us, please send an email to [email protected]