For decades, women in the pharmacy field have exemplified character traits that have been undervalued in consideration of their leadership qualities. In a panel discussion webcast to celebrate #WomenPharmacistDay, hosted by Pharmacy Times® in partnership with the Pharmacist Moms Group, female leaders in pharmacy discussed the importance of recognizing the impact of women on the pharmacy landscape, specifically in relation to women’s ability to obtain and pursue leadership roles.

The #WomenPharmacistDay event will be broadcast on PharmacyTimes.com and in a Facebook live event on the Pharmacist Moms Group page on October 12 at 9 am EDT.

During the Facebook live event at 9 am on October 12 on the Pharmacist Moms Group page, Suzanne Soliman, PharmD, BCMAS, founder of the Pharmacist Moms Group, will announce the winners of the Woman Pharmacist of the Year award and the Independent Woman Pharmacist of the Year award, sponsored by First Financial Bank.

Additionally, the day after #WomenPharmacistDay on October 13, there will be a giveaway on the Pharmacist Moms Group page of vitamins, books on leadership, life changes, finances, and women in pharmacy, as well as skin care products, keychains, and much more.

Soliman, who founded #WomenPharmacistDay in 2018, explained that for 4 decades, women have comprised the majority of pharmacy school graduates, but remained a minority among deans of the colleges of pharmacy from which those students were graduating.

“When I started pharmacy school back in the year 2000, there were 82 colleges of pharmacy, and there were about 15 female deans,” Soliman said. “Now there’s 143 colleges of pharmacy and their number of deans is only 25. So, looking in terms of academia, there really hasn't been an increase in women deans.”

Outside of academia, the lag in the number of women in leadership roles in the field can also be seen in the number of women who have become owners of pharmacies, Soliman explained.

“There's been about 25% of women owners [of pharmacies] for the past 10 years,” Soliman said. “That hasn’t increased at all, so still they're predominantly male owners in pharmacy.”

Additionally, Soliman noted that the same is true for the number of women who are CEOs of large retail chains.

“Fifty-four percent of full-time pharmacists are women, but when you look at some of the CEOs of the large retail chains, they’re always male,” Soliman said.

However, Kate Gainer, PharmD, executive vice president and CEO of the Iowa Pharmacy Association (IPA), explained during the panel discussion that although only 11 out of the 140 past presidents of the IPA have been women, 6 out of the 11 female IPA presidents have taken this role in the past 10 years.

“So, there is certainly a shift in terms of association involvement and volunteer leadership that I see from my position in women taking on those roles. A couple themes that I would share are just engagement and seeking out the opportunities to be professionally involved,” Gainer said.

Panelist Brooke Griffin, PharmD, vice chair of clinical services at Midwestern University, explained that one way to support the process of more women pursuing leadership roles could be through the projection of the accessibility and relatability of those roles by the women currently in them.

“I think if we want more women in leadership positions, then women in leadership positions like ourselves need to think about what externally we are projecting in terms of our busyness badge that we like to wear, and how stressed we are at certain times,” Griffin said. “If we can make our current positions more relatable, then I think we'll see more women coming up the ranks.”

There are also company culture gaps that show those in leadership positions have historically not appreciated some of the qualities that women have exhibited more frequently in the workplace, such as planning social events at work that promote the appreciation and acknowledgment of employees as individuals.

“Why is it that women are predominantly the ones who plan the birthday parties, who plan the baby showers, who are planning all the events at work, but that's not part of their performance evaluation? They're helping to change and bring everyone together at the workplace, but nobody's really giving credit per se for that,” Soliman said.

Alexandra Broadus, PharmD, director of patient outcomes performance for Walgreens, explained that planning these kinds of social events in the workplace have an underappreciated value not only among leadership, but even among the women who organize them.

“There are many things that people are doing today that if they really thought about what is the desired outcome of doing this—is it just to send people birthday cards or is the desired outcome you're sending this birthday card because you care and value that person and their contribution to the organization, and you want to make sure that they stay connected and engaged,” Broadus said. “That's a leadership skill.”

Broadus explained that by acknowledging the importance and purpose of organizing these types of workplace activities by including it within a performance review, leadership in the field may also be able to help women value and acknowledge the importance of their own work in these areas.

“I think often times, particularly with women—I’ve seen it in my own personal development as well as those of my team—we often times minimize everything that we bring to the table because we're so used to caring and supporting others,” Broadus said. “In fact, we should be maximizing the value of those attributes because that's the type of leadership that our profession and the world needs right now. It’s that caring, emotive, and collaborative style of leadership that many female leaders do bring to the table today. We're very fortunate with that regard.”

The inaugural panel discussion including Soliman, Broadus, and Gainer, will also include Brooke Griffin, PharmD, vice chair of clinical services at Midwestern University; and Linda MacLean, B Pharm, vice dean of external relations and professor of pharmacotherapy at Washington State University.

The webcast discussion will be posted on October 12 on the Pharmacy Times website and will be available on demand therefafter. The official sponsor of #WomenPharmacistDay is Cardinal Health, with special thanks to Florajen, First Financial Bank, and Neuriva.

“This year, women have worked harder than ever in all fields. Many women are taking care of not only themselves, but sometimes their parents, their grandparents, and their children, and they’re managing their home and their workplace,” Soliman said. “Women are also leaving the workforce [during the COVID-19 pandemic] because they are unable to virtually school their children and work. This is the most important year to recognize the role of women in the workplace because women have worked harder than they ever have. We need to recognize women for everything that they are doing right now.”