By Hala Jawad
Some organisations consider equality is not just a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. Of course, companies have the power to influence social norms and gender equality is essential for economies and communities to thrive.
A gender equal world can only be healthier, wealthier and more equitable.
The race is on for gender equal boardrooms, gender equal governments, gender equal media and sport coverage, gender equal workplaces, and more gender equality in health and wealth of the nation.
The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) International Women’s Day event on Wednesday, March 11 – which is being hosted by the newly revived network of National Association of Women Pharmacists (NAWP) – will explore how women in pharmacy can help to shape the sector and lead the debate on issues which are important to women pharmacists and their teams.
It will include an introduction to the newly launched NAWP within the PDA, a look at the work of the Fawcett Society on their new Equal Pay Bill – seeking to modernise equal pay legislation – 50 years on, and their research on women in leadership.
The PDA will also explore the International Women’s Day’s missions and how the association’s members can get involved in supporting women in business, sport, arts, science and politics; and, most importantly, how we, the womenfolk, can support each other in our union.
A total of 300 women pharmacists have already joined the new PDA-supported NAWP network since its relaunch in January this year.
The PDA annual conference to be held in Birmingham in March 2020 will see a NAWP networking event, with a number of women keynote speakers, including the newly elected MP for Coventry and senior pharmacist, Taiwo Owatemi, and Dr Wanda Wyporska, executive director at the Equality Trust.
The association has maintained gender parity with a number of women representatives, female staff and women in senior positions, including Alima Batchelor, head of policy; Claire Ward, director of public relations; Kate Rowbottom, head of HR; Kayleigh Mapstone, head of operations and Collette Bradford, head of organising & engagement.
But is there a strong contingent of women in top pharmacy roles – I’m asked regularly by young pharmacists?
We do have some inspiring women in pharmacy who are leading the way in senior roles, such as Rose Marie Parr, chief pharmaceutical officer in Scotland, who’s been doing remarkable things for pharmacy there.
Although approximately 65 per cent of pharmacists are women, and despite pharmacy being a female-dominated profession in the UK, men still occupy the majority of senior roles, according to researchers from the University of Birmingham’s School of Pharmacy.
They estimate females make up 36 per cent of the most senior positions in pharmacy compared to 64 per cent of their male colleagues.
Another question I am asked fairly frequently is, what are the some of the most dominant issues facing women in pharmacy?
The answer could open a Pandora’s box, but I will resist for now as it is outside the scope of this article.
We still have issues in some areas of pharmacy regarding equal pay.
According to the most recent data from the Office for National Statistics, there is still a 13 per cent pay gap between female and male pharmacists working full-time in the UK.
As a PDA representative, I’m pleased that there is NAWP to explore some of these concerns and solutions.
Working in Boots UK, we have a new Equality Working Party set up to address any equality concerns within the company and to consider new initiatives to nurture equality, it is made up of PDA representatives from the union and Boots UK managers working together.
By really listening to each other and working together – pharmacists, their union and employers can begin to find solutions to some of the equality issues in their workplaces, companies and in the pharmacy sector.
What contributes to the success of women in pharmacy? I feel that mentors are important to all women whether you work in pharmacy or elsewhere.
I can say that I’m lucky that I have had amazing mentors in my life. Without their help and continuous support, I wouldn’t have been where I am today; I’m ever so grateful to have all these amazing women in my life who’ve helped me and guided me behind the scenes, especially during hard times.
I hope pharmacists and PDA members will support International Women’s Day and let’s celebrate #EachforEqual.
Pharmacist Hala Jawad is a regional representative for PDA Union – London Division.