Women in Pharmacy: Challenges, Successes, and Support


Attendees at the McKesson ideaShare had the chance to hear about women pharmacists and the challenges, successes, and opportunities they have in a session presented by Suzanne Soliman, PharmD.

Attendees at the McKesson ideaShare meeting had the chance to hear about women pharmacists and the challenges, successes, and opportunities they have in a session presented by Suzanne Soliman, PharmD.

Soliman, a clinical pharmacist, Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy, and mother of 5 spoke about her experiences as a woman in the pharmacy field and as the founder of Pharmacist Moms, one of the largest social media groups for pharmacists in the United States. With more than 20,000 members practicing in all areas of pharmacy, Soliman said Pharmacy Moms has provided a space for women to discuss their challenges and some solutions.

The struggle for perfection is one area in which Soliman said she frequently sees women struggle. Rather than perfection, she said, women should strive to be brave. Taking risks at work, volunteering ideas, and speaking up about concerns are all important ways that women can be brave, rather than striving for unattainable perfection.

For example, Soliman added that people are frequently surprised to hear about female pharmacists, despite the fact that women are graduating from pharmacy schools at higher rates than men. This unawareness results in myriad consequences: lower percentages of female pharmacy owners, more women than men in part-time positions, and lower pay for female pharmacists than male.

Although pharmacy has one of the smallest pay gaps for women when compared to other professions, female pharmacists on average make 82 cents to the dollar men earn. This comes to $20,488 less each year.

“Why is this?” Soliman asked after each example of gender disparities.

More work at home, children, and competing responsibilities to family can all contribute to these disparities, but Soliman said there’s not a simple answer.

Increasing awareness is one place to start, however, and groups like Pharmacist Moms are working to not only raise awareness that female pharmacists exist, but that they face disparities in the workplace.

Providing resources and support is an important second step, from discussion groups to increase support in the workplace.

Soliman said she’s heard of many women participating in job shares, in which two people are hired for one job, allowing them to work essentially part-time while maintaining the same productivity as a full-time position.

Finally, Soliman urged the audience to support each other throughout their journeys as female pharmacists.

“We all have obstacles, but we push through them,” she said.

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