The inspiring women of pharmacy

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International Women’s day celebrates the milestone achievements and the history of women, spreading awareness about their social, economic, cultural and political achievements, it also encourages a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

To mark this day, we chat to Hannah Batchelor, BSc, PhD, Director of Research for Pharmacy at the University of Birmingham about her current role, challenges and successes as a female in her profession and more importantly how to #BeBoldForChange.

What do you see as the successes and challenges for women in the workplace?

“I would really like to see the same ratio of women in senior pharmacy positions as we see in undergraduate courses. At the moment the pharmacy schools council which represents the heads of schools has 6/30 members who are women (20%). A report in 2014 on the number of females who are chief pharmacists showed a similar proportion where 25% of roles were filled by women.

It is great that there are now women appearing on these lists but there needs to be more research into why women are not filling these roles to understand the barriers and how these can be overcome. This issue is particularly close to my heart as I want to inspire the undergraduates to achieve senior roles in pharmacy regardless of their gender.”

Do you have any examples of leadership, networking, negotiating and influencing?

“I am the Director of Research for Pharmacy at the University of Birmingham, this role is great as I meet the senior leadership teams from across the University and have an opportunity to promote pharmacy as a diverse topic to many other disciplines. I also meet with industry leaders and highlight what we can offer at the University for research projects to help advance both science and practice.

I recently led a large multicentre paediatric clinical study as part of an Innovate UK Formulated Products Collaborative R&D project (Ref: 101709) on Accelerating Paediatric Formulation Development through Smart Design and Predictive Science), which is co-funded by Innovate UK and the contributing companies of AstraZeneca, Bristol Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Juniper Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer. This project recruited over 600 children to get a better understanding about the acceptability of existing medicines and how we measure acceptability of new medicines.”

Can you tell us some of your Inspirational tips and motivation linked to your career high points?

“My career highlights relate to when I feel I have made a difference to someone, be it an undergraduate or patient. I recently undertook a project to find out how parents and carers of children with Cystic Fibrosis manage to administer flucloxacillin so that we could collect strategies to provide to other parents and carers. Over Christmas I received an email from a parent saying how thankful he was to have found this information and how it had helped him to manage his child’s administration. It is sometimes the small things like that interaction that are more meaningful rather than publication of papers or gaining grant income.”

Do you have any Practical steps to drive your career forward?

“Embrace opportunity! It sounds obvious but by embracing opportunities to network with others or reach out to different disciplines can really expand your reach both in terms of research projects and also job offers. It is all too easy to stick to what you know and stay in your comfort zone but it is only by stepping outside that you really begin to excel.

My other tip is to think BIG! Be as bold as you dare and go for it. If you really go for a big project you are likely to achieve something great, if you go for the small and safe option you never know what you could have gained.”

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