Journal of Women's History, Volume 24, Number 1, Spring 2012, pp. 111-137 (Article) Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press DOI: 10.1353/jowh.2012.0003
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Women Pharmacists in TwentiethCentury Senegal
Donna A. Patterson
Examining Access to Education and Property in West Africa
enegal is home to a large number of female pharmacists and throughout the late colonial and early postcolonial periods, Senegal’s women gained prominence in previously male-dominated fields such as dentistry, medicine, and, especially, pharmacy. The attraction to pharmacy has been so pronounced that, by the late twentieth century, statistics show women own 65 percent of the pharmacies in Dakar and 48 percent in greater Senegal. Such figures point not only to increases in women’s professional activities but also to their utilization of formal lending mechanisms to open private pharmacies. Use of credit by women in this way is significant in West Africa, where women have often had marginal access to diversified lines of credit. Such a development sparks interest in discovering exactly what it was that encouraged these women to become pharmacists; in this article I show the opportunities and circumstances that led women to study this field. In examining their journey, I uncover the obstacles that they faced due to societal conceptions of gender roles as well as the strategies they enlisted to surmount these issues. As this article examines how female pharmacists in Senegal negotiated gender and professional development between 1945 and 2000, it, importantly, investigates how women used education and professional networks to situate themselves as prominent...