Pharmacy is hard. Unfortunately, it’s harder if you are a woman. And it’s harder again if you choose to have children.
This my story.
I was a pharmacist store manager previous to having my second child. I returned a number of years ago.
I was unable to do the hours needed to stay on as a store manager. Incidentally, my husband works in construction and men working part-time is frowned upon. This is another issue. It works both ways negatively. So it was me that had to cut my hours down. I thought well at least I won’t lose my job but I did lose my position.
It is assumed that the women in this dynamic will always blink first and accommodate the man.
On my return to work, I requested to keep my store manager role but perhaps on a job share basis. Unfortunately, this was to no avail. I genuinely think they tried to find someone to work the other three days. They advertised the role too, but no one could be found.
So I now work three days a week as a pharmacist without the managerial part of my role. I desperately miss the managerial aspect of the role. I still enjoy being a pharmacist and am happy but not challenged as I was before.
So this is where I took it upon myself to find a primary care role and do my independent prescribing qualification. I’m just coming to the end of the course now and am grateful I’ve found a way to grow professionally even if it’s not into a more senior position.
I feel this is what is expected of women.
Many times over the years I’ve been told:
“You should spend this time with your children while they are young so stepping down/cutting down your hours is good.”
I’ve been told outright by a male manager:
“You can’t be a manager on 4 days.”
This problem exists across all sectors. On maternity leave, my mother and baby group consisted of many confident senior women. For example, there was a veterinary surgeon, a head buyer for a top retail company, a speech and language therapist and a TV producer All of us had to cut hours or days, change positions or stop working.
But none of us is reaching our full potential and we are all quite disappointed by that too. Unfortunately, at the moment, there’s no other way.
So much more could be done.
The huge potential of women is there. We are fully capable, confident and would love to return to our pre-children senior roles. Unfortunately, because we have to pick our children up at 5 pm, look after them in the evenings etc. we miss out.
Thank you for raising this issue. We need to understand the full picture to finally move forward.
The author of this blog wished to remain anonymous.
If you would like to contribute to this series on sexism in pharmacy and tell your story, anonymously if necessary, you can get in touch here.
Parmacy in Practise is a UK pharmacy publication.