Objective The sex mix of the pharmacy workforce has altered significantly over the last 60 years such that in 2005 54% of the practising pharmacy workforce was female. After the age of 30 years, part-time working is common and it is often assumed that pharmacy working attracts and suits women because it is flexible and family friendly. This paper aims to explore to what extent that is true. Setting This study was based in the North West of England. Method Face-to-face interviews (n=30) were conducted with women over the age of 30 years who worked as community pharmacists. The interview schedule was designed to explore: interviewees' motivation for choosing pharmacy; employment history; motivation for choosing a particular pattern of working; views of recent changes in pharmacy; and future career plans. Key findings In line with previous studies this sample of female community pharmacists adopted heterogenous work patterns, and personal and extrinsic structural factors were found to influence work patterns. Importantly, there was evidence of a lack of family-friendly practices, with antisocial hours, difficulties accommodating annual leave, and the restrictive legislative framework that necessitates that a pharmacist is always present in a store, all affecting work patterns. Conclusion Our study, in contrast to other studies, suggests that for about half of the women interviewed, community pharmacy working was difficult to combine with family commitments. This finding has implications for employers and workforce planners because an increasing proportion of the community pharmacy workforce is female.
- community pharmacy
- family-friendly working conditions
- equal opportunities
- female community pharmacists