Why many women in healthcare are not promoted to top positions

While many women work in the healthcare services industry in entry-level roles, there is a scarcity of women in top health management positions, according to The Wall Street Journal.

New data cited by the newspaper from LeanIn.Org and McKinsey& Co shows women in entry-level roles, such as nurses, home health aides and recently graduated physicians, represent 75 percent of employees in a sample of more than 20 companies. In those same companies, which includes hospital systems and other direct-care providers, women in C-suite roles represent 33 percent of employees, while women in senior vice president positions represent 41 percent. Women in vice president roles represent 47 percent.

Julie Silver, MD, director of Harvard's leadership course and a professor at the Boston medical school, told The Wall Street Journal the scarcity of women in top health management roles "is not because they don't want the positions, it's not because they don't work hard enough, it's not because they're not qualified for the positions. It's not because there's a lack of a pipeline of talented women who could be promoted."

Rather, the newspaper reported, citing interviews and the data, women face challenges to advancement early.

Janette Dill, PhD, a professor of health policy and management at the University of Minnesota, told The Wall Street Journal that in healthcare, one of those barriers may be not having the education required for certain management roles.

Overall, LeanIn.Org and McKinsey& Co conclude that "women continue to be underrepresented at every level. To change the numbers, companies need to focus where the real problem is. We often talk about the 'glass ceiling' that prevents women from reaching senior leadership positions."

"In reality, the biggest obstacle that women face is much earlier in the pipeline, at the first step up to manager. Fixing this 'broken rung' is the key to achieving parity," researchers added.

Read The Wall Street Journal's full report here.


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10 healthcare professions and their projected job growth by 2028

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