Women to Watch 2020: what we did and why

In March of this year we launched a nationwide search to find women in the pharmacy profession who were achieving great things and deserved greater recognition.

Women to watch promotional material

There are many shining examples of female leadership in pharmacy, not least those women currently leading many of the top representative bodies — the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) included. So, why do we need to publish a list of women to watch this year?

Despite the fact that more than two-thirds of the pharmacy profession is female, this is not reflected in senior positions in the profession; research shows that only a third of senior positions in pharmacy are held by women.This reflects the trend in society as a whole.

The ‘Sex & Power 2020’ report — published in January 2020 by the Fawcett Society, a gender equality and women’s rights charity — states that it will take decades for women to equal men in most areas of public life, including health, and that the situation is even more dire for women from an ethnic minority group.

And so, The Pharmaceutical Journal, with the support of colleagues in the RPS, decided that we bore a responsibility to help women in the profession shatter this glass ceiling. To do this, we launched a nationwide search in March 2020 to find women in the profession who were achieving great things and deserved greater recognition in pharmacy.

The intiative was designed to encourage women themselves to be proud of their achievements, but also to act as a mirror to other women in the pharmacy profession and encourage them to follow in others’ footsteps. It benefits all working in the pharmacy profession if two-thirds of those are not held back by archaic structures in society, or by their own self-confidence.

Nominations were open to women in pharmacy of any age, ethnicity, or at any stage in their career, as long as they were not currently, or previously, on the board of a large national organisation or executive committee. And we were delighted to receive 61 nominations from all corners of the pharmacy profession.

All nominations were considered by an external advisory panel of pharmacy experts, chaired by The Pharmaceutical Journal, and were assessed on five criteria: their drive, potential, influence, impact and diversity.

Today, we are delighted to publish profiles of 12 phenomenal women, who have truly demonstrated the grit, bravery and tenacity that befits a Woman to Watch. They have all broken new ground for pharmacy and pushed boundaries in their respective fields, often having a tremendously positive influence on those both within and outside of their profession and locality — some even internationally.

Some of these women have had to overcome both professional and personal setbacks to fulfil their career ambitions, but it was striking how, in many of the nominations, there was a determination to bring others up and to ensure that those who follow in their footsteps are not subjected to the same hardships.

After what has been a challenging year, we hope the stories of these women and their achievements will inspire and encourage all who read them. Their dedication and professionalism has certainly inspired us to run the Women to Watch initiative again in 2021.

There is no denying that this year’s Women to Watch will continue to change the face of pharmacy. Their hard-won battles are reason for celebration and their achievements deserve the recognition and attention of the profession.

So, here is a challenge for you: if you know anyone who should be included in our list in 2021, look out for our call for nominations and tell us about a woman to watch. 

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ December 2020, Vol 305, No 7944;305(7944):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2020.20208628

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