Taiwo Owatemi, Labour MP for Coventry North West, and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) hosted an event on 26 April 2023 at the Houses of Parliament, celebrating the achievements of women across the pharmacy sector.
The event was attended by several finalists of The Pharmaceutical Journal’s annual Women to Watch initiative, which recognises female pharmacy professionals who deserve wider recognition for their work (scroll down for images from the event).
Speaking at the event, Karen Baxter, deputy chief executive officer of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and managing director of Pharmaceutical Press, the Society’s publishing arm, said she was “very proud to work for a profession where over 60% of the workforce is women, and where we often top the lists of the most trusted professions in the country”.
However, Baxter added that just 25% of senior leaders are women in some areas of the sector and that the pharmacy profession still has a double digit pay gap.
“Speaking on behalf of the RPS, we are committed to inclusion and diversity,” she said. “In doing so, we’re thinking about what we can tangibly do to make a difference”.
Commenting on The Pharmaceutical Journal’s Women to Watch initiative, Baxter said: “We know it’s actually made a difference.
“Some of the women tell us that it’s opened doors for them that otherwise wouldn’t. It’s given them a profile; it’s given them the confidence to carry on doing what they were already doing. And so I think that is a fantastic example of making a tangible difference.”
Thorrun Govind, chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board, said that it was great to recognise the achievements of so many women working in their local communities.
“That’s the key point to me: you are all ambassadors for the profession, you all have a role to play, you don’t need a grand title to make a difference. You can all go forward in your communities, tell people what you’re doing, tell people about the great work that you’re doing.
“We are committed to inclusion and diversity, to breaking down the barriers to encourage people into pharmacy. Because, ultimately, this is a fantastic profession to be part of. And the diversity in this room is exactly what we need to be championing for more of.”
Speaking at the event, Owatemi said that, while the pharmacy sector was currently under severe strain, “everywhere you go, you see so much positivity — and we can see it in this room today”.
“Despite the challenges that the pharmacy sector is facing, everyone’s positive about the change that we can make: the positive impact that, specifically, community pharmacists can have given the necessary funding and the necessary changes to drive the profession forward.
“The pharmacy profession has a vital role to play in addressing deep rooted inequalities and supporting patient access to care. And I know it is a core theme at the RPS, [which] worked with the King’s Fund on the production of the vision for pharmacy.
“I want to congratulate the Society for that wonderful work which they’ve done to tackle inequality head on. I also want to thank the RPS for what they’ve been doing in terms of tackling inclusion and diversity within the workforce, and actively trying to create a culture of belonging, of championing inclusivity.”
Claire Anderson, president of the RPS, reflected on her early days as an academic, where she was the first female professor in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Nottingham.
“I was the only female professor there for a very long time,” she told attendees.
Anderson went on to emphasise that, while she was often the only woman in a room at that time, her male colleagues were supportive of her and that she was grateful to all the men and women who have helped her to get where she is today, “and there are many of you in this room”.
“The Women to Watch campaign, as you have seen, is a wonderful showcase to show off your talents in our profession, and I think it’s brilliant that The Pharmaceutical Journal started it.
“So please look out for this year’s campaign. Nominate your friends, nominate your colleagues —because it’s really important.”
This year’s search for Women to Watch in pharmacy will be launched by The Pharmaceutical Journal during summer 2023.