Medical College of Wisconsin
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Leadership aspiration: An intersectional analysis of racial and gender equity in pharmacy. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003) 2023;63(1):80-89



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85138213459 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)


BACKGROUND: The glass ceiling is a metaphor used to describe an invisible barrier that prevents an underrepresented group from rising beyond a certain level. Among pharmacists, underrepresented groups face various barriers and limitations to their successes.

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to apply the intersectionality framework to data collected from the 2019 National Pharmacist Workforce Study (NPWS) to understand the association of gender and race with leadership aspiration among pharmacists, including differences in perceived barriers and attractors for pursuing leadership.

METHODS: The 2019 NPWS was conducted using an electronic Qualtrics survey. Three e-mails containing the survey link were sent to a systematic random sample of 94,803 pharmacists through the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Foundation e-profile system. The 2019 NPWS had an overall response rate of 6% (5705/94,803). A total of 8466 pharmacists clicked on the survey link, resulting in a usable response rate of 67.3% (5705/8466). Data were analyzed in SPSS software using descriptive and Pearson's r and chi-square test statistics.

RESULTS: Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) pharmacists reported holding 10.7% of all leadership positions. Leadership positions included manager, assistant manager, executive, dean, director, chief pharmacy officer, owner or partner, and other leadership position types. White men and women reported the lowest interest in leadership (38.8% and 37.7%), whereas Black men (65.1%), Latinas (59.2%), Black women (58.5%), and Latinos (57.1%) had the highest interest in leadership. "The ability to make an impact" was the most frequently selected attractor for wanting to pursue leadership, selected by 92.5% and 79.6% of Black men and women, respectively, 77.8% of Other women, and 76.9% of Latinos. At graduation from pharmacy school, the student debt loan average of all graduation years ranged from $63,886 (± $73,701) for Other men to $112,384 (± $105,417) for Black women. Higher student loan debt was positively correlated with wanting to pursue a leadership position (r = 0.22, P < 0.001). Black women graduating 2011-2019 had the highest student loan debt at graduation ($194,456 ± $88,898).

CONCLUSION: Interest in leadership positions by BIPOC pharmacists compared with reported leadership roles were inversely correlated. Understanding the discrepancy in interest in leadership and reported leadership positions held, particularly with relation to race and gender, is essential to understanding equity in pharmacy leadership. Further research is warranted to understand the factors that impede the ascension of women and underrepresented pharmacists into leadership positions.

Author List

Bakken BK, Oudeh R, Gaither CA, Arya V, Doucette WR, Witry MJ, Kreling DH, Mott DA, Schommer JC


Brianne K. Bakken PharmD Assistant Professor in the School of Pharmacy Administration department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Pharmaceutical Services