Empowering Women to Take on More Leadership Roles in Pharmacy
Suzanne Soliman, PharmD, founded the Pharmacist Mom Group on Facebook, and it has since grown to be 1 of the most active on the popular social media platform, with more than 2 million posts last year alone.
It was during the middle of the night when Suzanne Soliman, PharmD, founder of the Pharmacist Mom Group on Facebook, got the idea for her group page, which has since grown to be 1 of the most active on the popular social media platform, with more than 2 million posts last year alone.
Soliman had a lot on her mind and just wanted to chat with another pharmacist and mother who could relate to some of the questions that were running through her mind. What started out that night as an invitation to a handful of her female pharmacy friends to join a Facebook group has grown to more than 24,000 participants. The group has recently been invited to work with Facebook on a subscription model.
Soliman explained that she was looking for pictures of women in pharmacy.
“I typed in: ‘woman in suit,’ and of course, women in swimsuits came up far more often than business suits....it got me thinking about how we are actually perceived. There are so many more pharmacists that are female now than ever before, but very few in leadership positions,” she said.
There are numerous factors that are likely contributing to the lack of female leadership in the pharmacy business. Soliman cited published data that concluded that “success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively for women. When a man is successful, he is liked by both men and women more. When a woman is successful, people of both genders like her less, so we do it to one another.”
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Employer awareness is also an issue, Soliman said. Recently, California passed a law that will require publicly traded companies to have at least one woman on their boards of directors by the end of 2019. Soliman said she approves of legislation such as this, adding that some value must also be placed on company culture.
“Company culture is typically improved by women, but they are not given rewards for that,” she said. “Even though [women are more likely to be] improving team morale, it’s not advancing their career.”
The challenges that keep women out of leadership positions in pharmacy need to be met head on, Soliman noted, because women make up the vast majority of graduates coming out of schools of pharmacy. Enrollments in schools of pharmacy across the board currently show women at 64% and men at 36% of students. Soliman noted that the shift in pharmacy enrollment was likely influenced by several factors, including increased shift work with part-time hours, decreased self-employment, and increased use of technology in pharmacies.
Soliman noted that this shift in the workforce of pharmacy should be recognized. As a first step to address this, she worked to establish National Women Pharmacist Day on October 12.
Soliman chose the date because it coincides with American Pharmacist Month. She chose the number 12 in honor of Elizabeth Greenleaf, who was the first woman pharmacist in America and had 12 children. As a pharmacist and mom, Soliman found that to be inspiring and therefore chose October 12.
According to published data from Harvard researchers Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz, “the profession of pharmacy is one of the most egalitarian professions, with pharmacists making .92 on the dollar,” Soliman said, “there is still more work to be done.”
Although women continue to push through the boundaries and the “glass ceilings, we can empower one another to grow even more,” she concluded.