News For This Month: OBGYN

Resolving Gender Issues in Healthcare Leadership

The healthcare industry still leaves female physicians struggling more than their male counterparts. The challenges they deal with include promotion and payment gaps to implicit bias and sexual harassment. It is not at all surprising to see only a few female physicians making it to medical leadership even if the number of new male and female graduates from medical school is equal. From US numbers alone, you only find 9% of division chiefs as women, 3% as chief medical officers, 6% as department chairs, and 3% as healthcare CEOs. These numbers will never change despite findings that the healthcare workforce mostly includes women, 80% to be exact. Also, these numbers will not change despite evidence proving having women on corporate boards and in upper management linked with enhanced accountability and improved financial performance.

What you can learn from these numbers is that healthcare leadership needs more female physicians as representatives. Resolving gender issues in healthcare leadership, however, is a challenge with the many barriers that female physicians go through. Nonetheless, there are promising areas of the healthcare industry that would help women secure a higher spot. Organizations should know how to give importance to specific areas in healthcare that would promote women in top positions.

Organizations must carefully assess specific areas in healthcare so female physicians will get equal leadership opportunities as male physicians in the industry. To make progress, healthcare organizations should assess how poorly or well women represent their leadership. They also need to understand what female physicians experience in the workplace compared to male physicians. Quantification is the key to change in gender roles and imbalances. One such case is giving recognition to women and their commitment to higher education and research. Institutions may be eligible for gold, silver, or bronze awards from the organization depending on how well they satisfy the organization’s requirements. Institutions that get a silver award or higher often receive health research funding. What you can see from these awards is the recognition of diversity and gender issues. These efforts can help catalyze cultural and structural changes and create financial and numerical incentives for change. In short, there is now more career support for female researchers.

Unlike male physicians, female physicians find it challenging to bag major recognition and awards. This creates a clear association with their promotions. With systematization, the organization applies equitable recognition of female and male achievement. Based on studies, the early stages of the job of female physicians are when gender gaps in terms of recognition emerge. When organizations recognize female physicians for their accomplishments through systematic publicity and identification, then one can narrow down gender-based gaps. You can apply this concept in a broader sense. They include systematizing appointment of physicians to committees, search processes, and a nomination for increased responsibility and leadership roles.

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