Independent community pharmacy contractor Reena Barai said she wants to be a ‘role model’ after becoming the first woman in four years to be appointed to the board of the National Pharmacy Association (NPA).
Barai joined the board in April 2018, and said that she hopes to encourage more women pharmacists to apply for leadership roles so they can have a voice in helping shape the future of the profession.
“I want to be the voice of a real jobbing pharmacist — to be a role model for other women in pharmacy who have thought about putting themselves on boards, but thought it’s not possible” said Barai, who runs a pharmacy in Sutton, Surrey.
She said her decision to put herself up for election had been a “slow burning ember for many years”.
“One reason I had not done this before was because of ‘imposter syndrome’, which is where women feel they’re not experienced enough, doubt themselves, and question their abilities to apply for roles.
“But right now I feel community pharmacy is at a big crossroads because of funding cuts, and I need to have my say and make my mark before it’s too late,” she said.
Being up against “one very worthy candidate who had been on the board for many years”, and “having never done anything like this before”, she says the election process was tough.
She also experienced some problems while standing for election because of her gender. “Female pharmacy owners are in the minority — it is a male-dominated sector. While there have been women on the NPA board before, I did occasionally come across a lack of awareness about the need for gender equality.”
Some women “may fear the culture of belittling and bullying in senior roles”, but if they put themselves forward for election to such roles, “they have an opportunity to make a difference and influence the future of pharmacy”, Barai said.
The Pharmaceutical Journal held a Twitter chat in April 2018 to highlight the issue of women representation at the top of the pharmacy profession, after data from the University of Birmingham showed that only 36% of women pharmacists hold the most senior positions in the industry.