Job Sharing for Women Pharmacists in Academia

By Rogers, Kelly C.; Finks, Shannon W. | American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, December 2009 | Go to article overview

Job Sharing for Women Pharmacists in Academia


Rogers, Kelly C., Finks, Shannon W., American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education


INTRODUCTION

The demographics of our profession have changed drastically over the past 40 years. In 1972, only 24% of students enrolled in pharmacy schools were women. (1) By 2007, this number had increased to 66%. (2) In the 1970s, few women entering pharmacy pursued academic positions. Historically, women have faced both social and professional barriers, including the negative perception of women in professional roles and the difficulty of attaining tenure and promotion while maintaining family responsibilities. (3,4) For these and other reasons, many women chose not to pursue advanced education or training. Presently, female pharmacists hold elected offices in national pharmacy associations and serve as directors of pharmacy as well as academic administrators. Nevertheless, a discrepancy exists between the number of female pharmacy students graduating and the number of female pharmacists in practice. This underrepresentation within the profession as a whole is also reflected in academia, where females comprise 30% of deans of colleges or schools of pharmacy and 20% of chairs of pharmacy practice. (3,5) The percentage of female pharmacy faculty members at the rank of full professor has risen slowly despite the dramatic increases in the number of female graduates. Only 20% of full professors in 2007 were women. (5) At the rank of assistant professor or higher, only 1,768 out of 4,075 (43%) of full-time faculty members were women, with more than 57% (1098 out of 1907) at the rank of assistant professors. (5) Although this is much higher than the mere 5% in 1973, a diligent effort to encourage women to enter, advance, and remain in academia is warranted. (1)

Although two-thirds of all pharmacy students and graduates are women, less than half of actively practicing pharmacists are women. (6) More female pharmacists work part-time than their male counterparts (24% vs. 13%), and women tend to switch to a part-time schedule earlier in their careers than men. (6) The average age of women pharmacists working part-time in 2004 was 31 to 35 years while the average age for men was 72 years. (6) In the National Pharmacist Workforce Survey, the most important factor in deciding to stay in a job was work schedule and flexibility. (7) Offering alternative work or flexible schedules, such as job sharing, is one way to recruit and retain women in all areas of pharmacy practice. If these options are not available to women, many will quit working altogether. In 2004, 70% of nonretired licensed pharmacists not working were women. (6) Furthermore, an estimated shortage of approximately 160,000 pharmacists by the year 2020 is expected according to the Pharmacy Manpower Project. (8) This shortage is compounded by the aging of the pharmacy workforce. In 2000, 17% of practicing pharmacists were over the age of 55 years, and this percentage increased to 25% in 2004. The "graying of the faculty" and impending retirements will worsen the shortage in academia and lead to the loss of valuable leadership. Although encouraging pharmacy students to consider a career in academia is one strategy, innovative ways of retaining experienced faculty members are also needed. Given the aforementioned statistic that female faculty members desire part-time work schedules at a relatively early stage in their careers, one retention strategy is to offer faculty members more flexible work arrangements, such as job sharing.

Although 72% of permanent part-time employees in the United States are female, (9) when a female pharmacist in academia or pharmacy practice desires to work part-time (even if temporarily), her commitment is sometimes questioned. (10) Having a balanced life can be a realistic and attainable goal for women and men in pharmacy today and job sharing may be one option to consider. In this paper, the benefits of job sharing to both employer and employee and strategies for successful job-sharing are discussed, and experience with a nontenure-track job-sharing position at the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy (UTCOP) is described. …

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