A woman of influence

QUT to overhaul medical prescription training

In the fourth of a series of interviews with the top five of our list of 10 Women of Influence in pharmacy, we speak to pharmacy academic Lisa Nissen

1. Do you think the full-time/pharmacy ownership expectation holds women back?

In response to the Full-time question, I don’t think that this is something isolated to women in the workplace. Many people (younger, older, women, men) are looking for flexibility in their work commitments to balance their work-life space / aspirations and this means that the traditional expectations for all workplaces around 9-5pm has changed.

That being said, career interruptions due to family commitments places further pressure on women in professional practice. This can provide a challenge in balancing aspirations around career advancement and opportunities to committee to projects, further study, business ownership or management / leadership roles.

2. How could women be better recognised and represented in pharmacy leadership?

There are many women leading the profession at all levels. The backbone of the workforce are our female pharmacists as demonstrated by the distribution and make up of the profession. How can we better recognise and represent women?

By recognition that the skills brought to the table by women in the workplace and the contributions that can be made are valuable in more strategic roles – and often different in approach to some of the more traditional views seen in pharmacy. 

3. Do you think it’s short-sighted to focus on gender issues rather than the work a pharmacist is contributing?

Yes and no. Data shows us that opportunity, representation and leadership examples across all areas for women (not just pharmacy) is low as a proportion of workforce. We clearly need to better utilise the skills that women bring to the table.

However, it is also a broader question of skills across any workplace, including utilising younger practitioners, those from different practice settings, those trained overseas, those with higher degrees and recognising advancing practice to name a few.

These are things beyond gender and are very important to the advancement of pharmacy and its ability to fully develop within the health sector

4. Do we need affirmative action at the top? If so, why?

Yes, leadership for change is always important for anything. You lead by example – you demonstrate and “be” the change you want to see. This inspires and supports everyone else to know that they can have a different view of the future, that the models can be different and that opportunities can arise.

But, the leader is in “everyone” – while examples need to be set for vision and practice, it requires others to take the steps to follow and also be prepared to step outside familiar comfort zones to help that difference happen.

5. Do you think women bring a different skillset to pharmacy and if so, how could that benefit the sector?

Yes, by nature women are different and that is great and valuable to any workplace. We certainly don’t need women to be “more like men” or vice versa we just need recognition that everyone has different skills and qualities that can be utilised in harmony to make organisations, workplaces and the health sector in this case function more effectively.

The value of a great leader is recognising those strengths in anyone and making the most of them, regardless of their gender.

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