Women In Pharmaceutical Sciences: How to Break the Glass Ceiling?

Women share their challenges in the workplace.

By Annette Bak, Ph.D., and Nurulain T. Zaveri, Ph.D.



With the great progress that has been made to increase the ranks of women entering STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, data show that women now comprise a majority of graduating Ph.D. scientists. However, this progress appears to be confined to only early career stages, and the gender gap is still considerable in senior positions, be it in academia or industry. The number of women in senior leadership roles has failed to keep up with the number of women pursuing higher education in the sciences. Among professional membership organizations, the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) is exceptionally committed to promoting greater representation of women, minorities, and young investigators at all levels. According to the AAPS 2017 Salary Survey, female membership in AAPS, at 38 percent, is higher than in several other professional societies. Despite this, the statistics are clear: Women in pharmaceutical sciences are not doing as well as their male counterparts. The AAPS 2016 Salary Survey found gender to be a statistically significant factor in predicting salary for members of otherwise similar educational and work-related backgrounds, with the difference averaging $5000/year in the U.S.1 Key women leaders in the American Chemical Society’s Medicinal Chemistry Division asked, “Where Are All the Women?” and found that women chemists are elected less frequently to professional leadership positions, advanced less frequently up the ranks in academia and industry, and submitted fewer publications than men, despite research showing that women have much to offer in terms of diverse viewpoints2 and a transformational leadership style.3

Related Stories

Table of Contents
Professional Development
May 2018