Live Event, Awards Highlight Women Pharmacist Day

This year marks the fifth annual Women Pharmacist Day after it was founded in 2018.

Women Pharmacist Day is celebrated annually on October 12 and serves to recognize the contributions of women in the pharmacy profession as well as historic female pharmacists who paved the way.

This year marks the fifth annual Women Pharmacist Day after it was founded in 2018. The month of October was selected to coincide with American Pharmacist Month, and the 12th day of the month was chosen to honor the first female pharmacist in the United States, Elizabeth Gooking Greenleaf, who had 12 children.

Suzanne Soliman, PharmD, BCMAS, founder of Women Pharmacist Day and the Pharmacists Moms Group, told Pharmacy Times that the day is a chance to remember and celebrate pioneers in the field, such as Greenleaf, and the first women who attended pharmacy schools.

“I couldn’t help but think what some of those early females were thinking and how they felt in pharmacy school,” Soliman said in an interview. “It felt that, at the time, there really wasn’t a day recognizing these women in pharmacy and what they went through and what they’ve accomplished to help us get there so that, you know, when I graduated, half of my class was female.”

The percentage of women in pharmacy has grown significantly in recent decades. Compared to approximately 14% of the pharmacy workforce in the 1960s, between 62% and 75% of pharmacists are women as of 2020 data. Although women may not have always been able to participate in the formal education and profession of pharmacy, women have historically participated in many aspects of patient care and medicine.

Many colonial women practiced medicine using herbal and natural medicines, although there is little record of practicing female pharmacists prior to 1776.1 Greenleaf is one of few colonial women with a documented record of her and her husband’s pharmacy practice, which was on a list of apothecaries in New England.

Despite the high percentage of women in pharmacy today, Soliman noted that women in the field still face unique obstacles. For example, the physical aspect of pharmacy can be particularly challenging for pharmacists who are pregnant.

“There are different things that we face and struggles that we face versus our male colleagues,” Soliman said. “[There are] just different things that we’re facing during pregnancy or maybe pumping at work that we need to talk about more and address more, just bring more recognition to women working right now.”

Currently, pharmacists celebrate Greenleaf and other trailblazers on October 12, by recognizing women working in pharmacies and with the Woman Pharmacist of the Year Award. Each year, 4 women pharmacists are chosen as Woman Pharmacist of the Year in 4 categories: community pharmacy, health system pharmacy, independent pharmacy, and nontraditional pharmacy. The winners are announced live during a program hosted in the Pharmacist Moms Facebook Group, and participants in the event can also win giveaway items. Join on October 12 at 1:30 pm ET in the exclusive Pharmacist Moms Group on Facebook to find out this year's winners.

How are you celebrating American Pharmacist Month and Women Pharmacist Day? Use the hashtag #ThankAPharmacist to highlight your colleagues on social media, or nominate an impactful pharmacist by emailing agallagher@pharmacytimes.com!