Closing the Gender Gap in Pharmacy Ownership

JULY 25, 2011
Laura Enderle, Associate Editor
Women make up half the pharmacy workforce, but pharmacy ownership is still largely male-dominateda fact the Women in Pharmacy initiative aims to change.

More than half of all pharmacy students and about half of all practicing pharmacists are women, yet statistics show that comparatively few among their ranks are pharmacy owners. Fortunately, the gap is steadily closingin 2009, 11.6% of male pharmacists and 8.1% of female pharmacists were owners or partners, compared with 10.3% and 2.1% in 2004, respectively.

Still, the figures suggest there's room for improvement, and a new project aims to speed the process by focusing on the future of pharmacy practicestudent pharmacists. In partnership with the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), Cardinal Health announced the "Women in Pharmacy" initiative, which encourages female pharmacy students to consider ownership as a career path.Women in Pharmacy

Although women's numbers are growing in every branch of the profession, pharmacy ownership is one area where women haven't staked their claim. "Today, the vast majority of community pharmacy owners are men," said Mike Kaufmann, chief executive officer of Cardinal Health's pharmaceutical division. "To support the growth and long-term viability of community pharmacy, we need to do more as an industry to encourage women to consider owning their own pharmacy."

The program will use NCPA's student chapters as a medium for sharing inspiring stories of Cardinal Health's 20 most successful female pharmacy owners. The goal of the stories, Kaufmann said, is to "capture the imaginations of future pharmacists." The awareness campaign will also bring women's success stories to the pages of pharmacy trade publications that target students.

The program does not explain why barriers to pharmacy ownership exist for women, but insights from the Pharmacy Manpower Project's 2009 National Pharmacist Workforce Survey provide some clues. In 2009, 29.8% of women worked part-time, compared with just 18.4% of men. Previous studies have also showed that turnover for pharmacy jobs is much higher among women than among men, with more women seeking new jobs due to family obligations.

Despite these imbalances, pharmacy remains an attractive career option for women. Pharmacist consistently ranks in Forbes.com's top 10 best-paying jobs for women, and each year the difference between men's and women's salaries gets smaller. Women currently earn 83% as much as their male counterpartsapproximately $83,500 annually, Forbes reported in its annual ranking. Women also comprise 48% of the pharmacy workforce.

Statistics suggest it may just be a matter of time before pharmacy ownerhsip follows suit. According to figures from the Pharmacy Manpower Project, 37% of practicing pharmacists are older than 55 years of age. As pharmacy owners retire, they are expected to leave doors open for newly minted female pharmacistsmaking projects like the Women in Pharmacy Initiative more important than ever.

"Entrepreneurial pharmacists come in all genders and nationalities," said NCPA chief executive officer Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. "NCPA is pleased to work with Cardinal Health's new Women in Pharmacy Initiative to inspire a new generation of female pharmacist entrepreneurs."

For other articles in this issue, see:

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