Women in pharmacy face intolerable levels of harassment and intimidation

We want to make this clear right off the bat: APhA is steadfastly opposed to sexism, racism, discrimination, harassment, and intimidation – implicit or explicit – and we are committed to combatting behaviors that undermine any member of our profession.

A recent change.org petition called on national pharmacy organizations to address the ways women are silenced: Women risk leadership roles, awards, and opportunities to present their research if they speak out about sexism and sexual misconduct. The petition inspired a wave of women to share their own stories of abuse and harassment based on their gender. The petition also led to discussions about the unfairness of guilty parties receiving tenure-track promotions, positions of power, and professional awards and accolades with no consideration of their unprofessional and destructive treatment of their women peers.

This is a very real threat to pharmacy and the patients we serve. When women are sexually harassed, and when their achievements are subjugated and disregarded, we are deprived of valuable perspectives, ideas, and innovations that could propel us forward.

Every one of us, especially men, needs to take an honest inventory of how we think and act, and how we play a role in letting sexism endure. APhA members and staff must do so as well, not only as individuals but as an organization.

It’s clear what we oppose, but what do we support? Well before the change.org petition resurfaced issues around gender discrimination and sexual harassment, the APhA Academy of Pharmaceutical Research and Science and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy convened a joint task force aimed at ensuring gender equity in careers in the sciences.

We are proud that three out of APhA's last five presidents are women, and that another woman will take the mantle in March. Our House of Delegates first took an unambiguous anti-sexist stance decades ago: In 1989, it adopted policy condemning gender discrimination and other bias-based discrimination. The policy was expanded in 2012 and 2017 to include gender identity and expression.

The change.org petition posted this month is upsetting to those who weren’t clued into the problem already, but it’s also a hopeful sign. It has motivated pharmacy groups, APhA and others, to reevaluate their actions to support women in the profession and recommit to living their principles, and it has amplified a conversation that must be ongoing.

We’ve got work to do. We call on all organizations and individuals to join us in fighting sexism, racism, discrimination, harassment, and intimidation. Let’s get at it.

APhA Board of Trustees

Michael D. Hogue, PharmD, FAPhA, FNAP, President

Sandra Leal, PharmD, MPH, FAPhA, CDCES, President-Elect

Brad Tice, PharmD, MBA, FAPhA, Immediate Past President

Gregory A. Fox, BSPharm, Treasurer

Sean Jeffery, PharmD, BCGP, FASCP, AGSF, Trustee-At-Large

Scott Knoer, MS, PharmD, FASHP, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer

Catherine Kuhn, PharmD, FAPhA, President APhA-APPM

Joey Mattingly, PharmD, MBA, PhD, House Speaker

Randy McDonough, PharmD, MS, FAPhA, Trustee-At-Large

David Nau, PhD, FAPhA, APhA-APRS President

Magaly Rodriguez de Bittner, PharmD, FAPhA, Trustee-At-Large

Theresa Tolle, BPharm, FAPhA, Trustee-At-Large

Sydney Tu, APhA-ASP President

Alex C. Varkey, PharmD, MS, FAPhA, Trustee-At-Large

Wendy Weber, PharmD, MBA, BCPS, FAPhA, Trustee-At-Large