Why Are Women Outnumbered in Health Care Management?

In health care, women hold 75% of entry-level positions, but just 33% of top leadership roles, according to new data from LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Co. The ratios are reversed for men, who make up 25% of entry-level workers and 67% of the C-suite. Women of color fare even worse than white women, holding just 6% of C-suite positions.

The disparity 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,” Julie Silver, MD, director of Harvard Medical School’s leadership course for women, told The Wall Street Journal. “Those are all critical thinking errors when they’re used as explanations.”

Early on in health careers, strict credential requirements for management positions can constrict upward mobility for women who start out in lower-level jobs, since access to higher education is often contingent on childcare. Meanwhile, “when men go into female-dominated occupations, they earn higher wages than women, they find more opportunities, and they’re fast-tracked into management positions,” Janette Dill, PhD, professor of health policy and management at the University of Minnesota, added.

Experts who spoke with The Wall Street Journal noted that some companies are working to change the status quo in the health care sector by offering tuition benefits, formal mentoring and sponsorship programs, and networking opportunities directed toward women.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2019.