The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

Discrimination? Yes and No

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:58 pm on Monday, May 12, 2008

When I asked everybody if you were reading this blog, I was asked the question if I had experienced any discrimination as a female pharmacist. I thought long and hard about that question before I decided to answer it. The answer is: Yes and No. I’ll explain “no” first.

I have never experienced any discrimination with regards to employment, hours or wages. In fact, the profession is so “fair” that its almost unfair. A pharmacist just graduating will walk into a retail setting and make the same amount of wages as a 20 year veteran. You start at the top and stay there. Our company demands schedule equity (unless you prefer a less than desirable shift, you must schedule everybody in fair shift distribution). I understand in hospitals you may get the graveyard before you get the cushy day shifts, and I cannot speak for all settings of retail either, but I have always had equal good and crappy (actually, they are all crappy) shifts.

I was a manager a few years into my practice and every subordinate I have had have been males. Actually I like working with male pharmacists. I have worked with both, and I’ll take man-woman mix over woman-woman mix anyday. I have never had a male pharmacist treat me poorly, or harass me for my gender, but I also have a fairly strong personality, probably a turn off –I dunno.

Where I have had discrimination is from customers, especially early on in my career. Some wanted to speak to the “real” pharmacist. Others would look around me and ask “Is there somebody ELSE I could talk to?” Occasionally somebody would want to talk to the MAN pharmacist. I would also have to endure somebody wanting to talk to the older tech over me.

It was also common for somebody who was pissed about something to go over my head to get what they want. Mad Customer: “I wanna talk to the manager!”… PC:”that would be me”…Mad Customer: “well, who is YOUR boss?” At the time he “lived” in the office over the pharmacy. There weren’t many times I liked my first boss, but this was one of them. He took no crap from customers. He was the owner, and I followed his instructions. I looked out for his bottom line and if there was one thing he didn’t like, it was whiny ass bottom feeders trying to give him crap about how he did business. I am not sure how well it would work in today’s “service” culture, but at the time, it was HIS store, HIS policies, HIS way or NO way. Lets just say he was not a negotiator. I could write a thousand posts about my first job, but since I am still trying to forget those years, I choose not to write.

Over time I have had fewer and fewer instances like that. I’d like to think that people have gotten used to seeing women behind the counter, but more likely its because I dont’ look 24 years old anymore. I am 20 years older, I am the “familiar face” and the “go to” person. I don’t look like the child playing dress up anymore, and I am better at handling people than I used to be. I have learned when to play offense and when to play defense. I also feel that the pharmacist shortage has helped reduce discrimination. If you have a valid liscense, you might as well hold the keys to Fort Knox, and nobody will care whether you have a X or Y chromosome.

I cannot speak for every female pharmacist, but Pharmacy Chick has always felt she came into the right profession at the right time. Its a great paying job for a woman (when you compare jobs historically). The downside is you get the same crappy long hours and the same crappy responsibilities as a male pharmacist. Much depends on who you work with, for I am sure if you get paired with some groper, you’ll need to guard yourself, but I doubt you’ll ever have to fight for a fair paycheck.



Comment by Susan

May 13, 2008 @ 4:01 pm

Wow..thanks for the enlightening post. I’m surprised you didn’t face more discrimination starting out in your career. It’s interesting how customers gave you a harder time, not so much employers.



Comment by Lois, RPh

May 14, 2008 @ 9:20 am

I’ve never felt discriminated against in an employer situation — for most of my career pharmacists have been in such demand that they wouldn’t dare. I do feel that some customers (and other health care professionals) are sometimes more ‘respectful’ of the (older) male pharmacists — they fit the stereotype more. People don’t seem to argue with them as much — they take their word for things. If I tell them there’s a problem with their prescription, some look at me as just being ‘bitchy’. It’s subtle, but it is sometimes there.


Comment by Carol

May 19, 2008 @ 6:23 am

I agree with the equality in pay thing. However, there is still a glass ceiling in the pharmacy world. In my 20 years of pharmacy I have seen only 4 DM’s that were female. Yet, innummerable male DM’s. Yet the pharmacy profession is well over 60% female. In my town, 5 stores are managed by women. 17 by men. I find this odd. I actually got out of big box stores because of the management attitude. I had a problem with a unionized employee. They went,”there there, you both must have been PMS’ing that day.” This, after the woman flat out refused to do something her manager (me) told her to do. Something that was well within her job description. I do relief work now. So long as I show up sober, the owner is happy.


Comment by The Ole' Apothecary

May 20, 2008 @ 3:45 pm

Have a look at the Oregon Board of Pharmacy Web site; out of the five pharmacist members, four are women.
Those who discriminate against women in pharmacy are stuck in the (bad) past.

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