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Why We Need More Women in Healthcare Leadership

Leadership can make a significant difference in healthcare job satisfaction as well as patient care by improving the atmosphere and workplace environment. Jacqueline Roberts joins the blog today to discuss the importance of having more women involved in healthcare leadership and how this can create growth in the healthcare industry.

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The path towards leadership isn't linear. Most work their way up to top positions, while some are given their roles immediately. It is true that not everyone has leadership potential and can lead an organization to success. However, biases and discrimination still exist at the executive level, and this can deter the company from finding success and allowing talented individuals to shine.

This problem is prevalent in all industries ⁠— including healthcare. Indeed, leadership in the healthcare field needs to have more gender diversity in order to provide equal care. According to Oliver Wyman’s Women in Healthcare Leadership 2019 report, only about 30% of C-suite executives and 13% of CEOs in healthcare are women. Aside from the huge disparity between the genders, women who make it as CEO take at least 3 years longer than men to attain that position.

It is important to bridge this gender gap in medicine and healthcare leadership. Here are a few reasons why.

There are More Women Than Men in the Healthcare Workforce

Despite being barred from practicing medicine professionally for decades, women are now slowly dominating healthcare. For instance, statistics on reveal that only about 6% of physicians were women in 1950. Today, that number stands at 36%. What’s more is that there are many women in healthcare roles that don’t involve direct patient interaction. Such roles include records technicians who are responsible for managing medical records for x-rays, diagnostic tests, and other medical procedures.

Today, about 70% of the entire healthcare workforce is made up of women. Most serve in roles that report directly to the CEO, such as chief information officers, chief legal officers, and chief human resources officers. While it’s great that women are filling in these high-ranking roles, it’s more important to have more women serve as CEOs. This is because CEOs often make decisions that affect both healthcare workers and patients. With fewer women CEOs, there’s an imbalance in policy intricacies that can be detrimental to how healthcare companies provide patient care.

In addition, having more women in the higher echelons of healthcare means they can collaborate better with other women across various sectors. Take public health professionals, for example. These experts are increasingly at the frontlines of the fight against health threats — not just COVID. In fact, one of the most in-demand nursing careers today are public health nurses. Aside from taking charge of the overall health of specific groups, these professionals also consider a community’s socioeconomic standing and access to healthcare services. Their job goes well beyond standard care-giving, and they need all the support they can get. More women leaders means they can acknowledge other working women’s struggles and provide solutions — such as closing the gender pay gap and stopping the cycle of underrepresentation and inequity.

Gender Diversity Helps an Organization Move Forward

Having gender diversity at the executive level has a myriad of benefits for a healthcare organization. Studies have found a correlation between superb financial performance and having women representation in management. Companies that had more women executives did better financially than organizations that low women representation. In addition, other research studies on have found that women are generally better than men in 20 key competencies that affect how an organization performed financially. Whether it’s at being a versatile leader or getting better results through teamwork, the study has found that women executives remain superior to their male counterparts.

In this day and age, healthcare organizations need to do better and widen their horizon by hiring more women at the executive level. Women have the leadership skills and wisdom, and representation can help make healthcare more accessible and fair for everyone.

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