BACKGROUND: In recent years there has been an increasing focus on gender balance and equity in leadership positions. In most fields of work, including female dominated professions such as pharmacy, there is an underrepresentation of women in leadership positions. This is despite significant benefits being observed in organisations when diversity in leadership is increased. To date, there has been no research investigating gender balance in pharmacy leadership and decision-making positions in Australia.
OBJECTIVE: To explore gender balance in pharmacy leadership in Australia and how it has changed over the last 20 years.
SETTING: This study was conducted in Australia.
METHOD: Eight key Australian pharmacy organisations were identified. Data were extracted from their websites or through direct contact with the organisation for the gender breakdown of their boards/committees/councils from the years 1998-2018.
RESULTS: In total, data were obtained for 368 separate professional committees, from seven organisations (including 22 state/territory branches), covering the years of 1998-2018. Some organisations provided information for each of the 21 years, while others were only able to provide a few data points. Overall, gender balance in pharmacy organisations has increased over the 21-year period however, there remains a lack of women in leadership positions, particularly in the most senior positions where women held only 24% of president/chair positions over the time period. In 2018 women held 34% of these positions, despite representing 62% of pharmacists in Australia.
CONCLUSION: Gender inequity in leadership is prevalent in the Australian pharmacy profession, although it has lessened over time. Based on the trend from 1998 to 2018 it is predicted that women will achieve an average of 50% representation in Australian pharmacy professional committees no sooner than 2029.