No. 32 (2): Tait American Diamond Palace

First Women’s Pharmacy

Inside First Women’s Pharmacy (Bulla, 1914)

Antonina B. Lesnevskaia, a Master of Pharmacy, opened the first Women’s Pharmacy in Petersburg in 1901, despite opposition from Petersburg pharmacists. She had taken her degree at the Military Medical Academy. Located on the second floor of 32 Nevsky, the pharmacy was entirely staffed by women. Lesnevskaia introduced a seven-hour work day for all staff members, with two shifts per day. The pharmacy was discussed as a progressive innovation not only in Russia, but elsewhere too. Predictably, some Petersburg residents avoided the Women’s Pharmacy, considering it inferior to those staffed by male pharmacists.

A year later, in 1902, Lesnevskaia established a Women’s Pharmacy Institute, which was very successful – many of its graduates received positions in Petersburg, others in the provinces. Although she held progressive views, Lesnevskaia was not sympathetic to the general strike of 1905 and threatened to expel those students who had joined the strike. In fact she ended up closing the school down till 1906. Though a feminist, she had a sometimes contentious relationship with the Russian women’s movement, especially with its socialist wing. When in1908 she reported to a women’s congress that female pharmacists in the city received equal pay with male pharmacists, some questioned the information, which was confirmed by official statistics.


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