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Narrowing Gender-Based Gaps 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. While it is disappointing, you cannot deny the fact that only a small portion of female physicians become medical leaders despite equal numbers of both sexes graduating from medical school. 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 are regardless of the fact that over 80% of the healthcare workforce is made up of women. Moreover, these numbers remain the same even if evidence points out that both improved accountability and improved business performance are associated with having women on corporate boards and in upper management.

What you can learn from these numbers is that healthcare leadership needs more female physicians as representatives. The need for better representation of female physicians in the healthcare industry is yet to be realized with the many obstacles they deal with daily. Even so, there are increasing opportunities in healthcare to give female physicians a chance to gain leadership in the industry. Organizations should know how to give importance to specific areas in healthcare that would promote women in top positions.

For healthcare organizations to create more room for female physicians as leaders, they have to take a look at certain areas. How women are described in the industry in terms of leadership, whether poorly or well, should be adequately assessed by healthcare organizations to make progress. They also need to understand what female physicians experience in the workplace compared to male physicians. Quantification is an essential component to improving gender gaps in the healthcare setting. For instance, charters should give recognition to women who advance their education and research efforts. Depending on how women meet the organization’s requirements, their affiliated institutions may receive gold, silver, or bronze awards. Receiving a silver award makes institutions qualified for health research funding. What these efforts tell you is that there is now awareness in the industry 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 has a direct impact on their promotions. Systematization ensures that there is equal recognition for both male and female achievements. According to research, gender gaps in terms of recognition exist during the early stages of the female physician’s career. You can help narrow these gender-biased gaps by offering systematic publicity and identification of their achievements. There are more extensive applications to this concept. Systematizing appointment of physicians to committees, nomination for increased responsibility and leadership roles, and search processes are some other examples.

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