Women in pharmacy: Leadership roles grow through self-advocacy, mentorship, and support
Women in pharmacy careers need to advocate for themselves as well as receive support and mentorship, in order to obtain leadership positions in the field.
The challenges faced by women in pharmacy — and the healthcare workforce as a whole — were examined during a webinar titled “Fostering Women Leaders in a Knowledge Cafe” presented by the American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists (ASHP) on March 4.
“Fewer women in pharmacy continue along the career continuum, and there are many factors that may allow us to consider less of a career path than is in our capability,” said moderator Sharon Murphy Enright, BS Pharm, president of EnvisonChange LLC in Atlanta, Ga.
Enright and the panelists identified some of the major obstacles to career progress for women pharmacists, including their own reluctance to pursue advancement as well as resistance from others.
“As women, we are often our own worst enemies. We will tend to discount [our abilities] or hedge and verbalize those things. We apologize ahead of time,” said Sara White, MS, FASHP, a pharmacy leadership coach and faculty for the Pharmacy Leadership Academy. “When have you heard a man worry about whether he has enough experience or whether he can get things done?”
“There is a true confidence gap between men and women,” agreed Despina Kotis, PharmD, FASHP, director of pharmacy at Northwestern Medicine. “Take the action and it grows your confidence. A lot of times, the fear of failure is bigger than overcoming those hurdles."
To develop as leaders, women also need encouragement that comes from mentorship and sponsorship by others, the panelists agreed. “Just being a good pharmacist is not enough … to guarantee success, unless you have other people supporting you and helping you,” White said.
“You need to actively seek out individuals in your company and train and develop them to become leaders. We see women refusing or not accepting the opportunity to develop as leaders, but we actively encourage them to pursue leadership opportunities,” said Michael Powell, MS, FASHP, executive director of Pharmaceutical and Nutrition Care at The Nebraska Medical Center and associate dean of Hospital Affairs at the UNMC College of Pharmacy.