Women in Pharmacy Today

Today the challenges facing women in pharmacy take a different shape to those of the 19th and 20th centuries. Women no longer struggle to enter the profession, in 2019 women accounted for 62% of GPhC registrants. Yet women remain under-represented in senior leadership roles. Despite representing the majority of pharmacists, only 2% of women are pharmacy business owners compared with 13% of men. There also continue to be gender and ethnicity pay gaps affecting women in pharmacy.

RPS continues to address these challenges, and in recent years has held an annual Women in Leadership conference, to explore ways of supporting women to fill leadership roles. The Pharmaceutical Journal continues to champion the issue of pay gaps. 

Despite these challenges, the contribution of women in pharmacy is continuing to grow. Our Inclusion and Diversity strategy now focuses on championing inclusive leadership and supporting women leaders from diverse backgrounds across all levels of pharmacy. 

Women today continue to represent the profession in the RPS as presidents, on the National Boards as RPS Fellows and as members of staff.

Gill Hawksworth

LDRPS:2004.7.23  Gill Hawksworth, President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, 2003-2004

Dr Gill Hawksworth was elected as the President of the RPS in 2003, the first time all elected officer posts at the Society were filled by women. Alongside Hawksworth, former president Linda Stone served as treasurer and Alison Ewing as vice president. 

Gill first registered as a pharmacist in 1974. She opened her own pharmacy in Yorkshire in 1986 and then in 1999 completed her PhD, which she had undertaken part time. She later went on to become a senior lecturer at the University of Huddersfield. 

Gill was a member of the RPS Council from 1992 until 2000 and became a Fellow of the RPS in 1997. Gill continued to be recognised for her commitment to pharmacy, winning the Schering Award in 1999. She was awarded an MBE for services to pharmacy in 2002. In 2017 she won the RPS Lifetime achievement award. 


Sandra Gidley

Portrait of Sandra Gidley, President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society 2019-present

Sandra Gidley was RPS president from 2019 - 2021 making her the one-hundredth non-consecutive president of the RPS. She had previously served four years as chair of the English Pharmacy Board and is a Fellow of the RPS.

Sandra has worked predominantly in community pharmacy, with a background in supermarket pharmacy management.

From 2000-2010 she was the Liberal Democrat MP for Romsey, and as a member of the Health Select Committee, she was able to raise the profile of pharmacy within government. Sandra uses her previous shadow ministerial responsibility for health and equality to advocate for inclusion and diversity within the pharmacy industry.


Claire Anderson

Claire Anderson green

Current President of the RPS Claire Anderson was elected in 2021. She is Professor of Social Pharmacy, Division of Pharmacy Practice and Policy, at the School of Pharmacy at the University of Nottingham.

Registering in 1982 Claire has over 30 years of academic experience, developing the first community pharmacy diploma at King’s College, and publishing over 150 peer review papers. She completed her PhD in 1997, ‘Health Promotion by Community Pharmacists’ at King’s College London.

Claire’s work has an international reputation, particularly her research on pharmacy education and workforce development. She is a Fellow of the RPS and of the International Pharmaceutical Federation. Claire is also a trustee of the Commonwealth Pharmacists’ Association.

In her role as President, Claire pledges to ‘to amplify the voice of pharmacy, to advocate for change and to support future generations of pharmacists’.

Board Members

There are currently a majority of women members elected to the National Pharmacy Boards of England, Scotland and Wales, including Thorrun Govind and Cheryl Way as Chairs of the English and Welsh Pharmacy Boards respectively.  The Boards have a total of 19 women and 16 men who direct the work of RPS and champion the role of pharmacy in healthcare at all levels and sectors, through work with government, academia, the voluntary sector and other stakeholders.

Women to Watch 2021


In March 2020 the Pharmaceutical Journal launched their Women to Watch Campaign to recognise and celebrate women working in the pharmacy profession. The campaign was part of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s priorities for inclusion and diversity to create a culture of belonging, champion inclusive and authentic leadership and to challenge barriers to inclusion and diversity.

In December 2021 this year's list of 12 women was published including profiles of women across the pharmacy profession.

The 2021 Women to Watch are:

  • Adanna Anthony-Okeke
  • Alifia Chakera
  • Atika Tailor
  • Claire Brandish
  • Iqra Sarwar
  • Jasmeen Islam
  • Nargis Gulzar
  • Natasha Callender
  • Nirali Sisodia
  • Nkiruka Umaru
  • Noma Al-Ahmad
  • Sophie Blow

See the 2020 Women to Watch.

Looking Forward

We know that there are many stories missing from this exhibition. If you know of a woman who you feel has made impactful contributions to pharmacy in the past please get in touch at [email protected]

Tell us about great unsung women leaders you know about at [email protected]. You can also join our Action in Belonging, Culture and Diversity group  

We hope to continue to tell the story of the diverse pharmacy workforce, and the steps that are still being made towards intersectional equality.