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Narrowing Gender-Based Gaps in Healthcare Leadership

In recent times, female physicians continue to deal with a range of challenges in the medical field. The challenges they deal with include promotion and payment gaps to implicit bias and sexual harassment. Though there are similar numbers of women and men who graduate from medical schools, you still find that medical leaders only comprise a small fraction of female physicians. In the US alone, only 3% of chief medical officers are women, 3% are healthcare CEOs, 6% are department chairs, and 9% are division chiefs. 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.

If you look at these numbers, you will learn that the healthcare system needs better female physician representation. 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.

There are many ways for healthcare organizations to promote female physicians in higher positions. 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 should also get a clear understanding of the experiences in the workplace of female physicians and how these compare to those of male physicians. Quantification is one way of addressing gender bias in the industry. For example, women should be recognized by organizations for their education and research advancements. Institutions can be eligible for gold, silver, or bronze awards depending on how women meet the requirements of the organization. Institutions can qualify for health research funding if they get a silver award. This kind of recognition means the organization is more aware of diversity and gender issues. All these things result in catalyzed cultural and structural changes as well as the creation of financial and numerical incentives for change. All in all, female researchers can get more increased career support from recognized organizations.

Female physicians often find themselves having a hard time receiving major recognition and awards compared to their male counterparts. This has implications on the promotions they receive. Systematization ensures that there is equal recognition for both male and female achievements. Based on studies, the early stages of the job of female physicians are when gender gaps in terms of recognition emerge. You can help narrow these gender-biased gaps by offering systematic publicity and identification of their achievements. You can apply this concept in a broader sense. Systematizing appointment of physicians to committees, nomination for increased responsibility and leadership roles, and search processes are some other examples.

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