Gender equity in healthcare still has a way to go, report finds
- Despite growing their growing presence in healthcare, women still remain pessimistic about achieving parity in the workplace, a new Rock Health report finds. More than half (55%) expect it will take at least 25 years to reach parity with men, up from 45% in 2017. Only 5% believe parity will happen in the next five years, down from 8% last year.
- The share of women in Fortune 500 healthcare C-suites and boards has lingered around 22% since 2015, and women comprise about a third of hospital executives. Women make up between 10-12% of digital health startup CEOs and venture capital partners.
- Women in companies with 10 or fewer employees are most likely to strongly agree that that their employer supports women leaders, with that belief declining as company size increases to 1,000 employees. Small companies were also more likely to get higher marks for career development.
The survey of 600 women in healthcare also found a positive correlation between gender equity and morale. And companies with gender-balanced teams tended to see an increase in gross profits.
Diversity in healthcare is happening. For the first time last year, women enrolled in medical school in greater numbers than men, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Yet despite notable strengths women in leadership can bring to an organization, change has been slow.
In a recent Medscape survey, male primary care doctors averaged $239,000 a year, compared with $203,000 for women. That’s a 2% jump in the wage gap in the last year. For specialists, the gap was even worse — $358,000 for men versus $263,000 for women, or a 36% gap.
Rock Health analysts found a resurgence in feelings of empowerment around sexual harassment. “We have been writing about the state of women in healthcare since 2012, but something is different this year,” the report says. “A palpable movement (#MeToo, as well as #TimesUp) has focused attention on this enormous problem previously only whispered about in break rooms.”
Between 1995 and 2016, 3,085 employees at general medical and surgical hospitals filed claims of sexual harassment with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to a BuzzFeed News investigation. Sexual harassment charges also showed up in nursing care facilities, physician offices and other healthcare sectors. Among recent cases, the NYC Health & Hospitals Corporation faces a broad discrimination lawsuit including charges of lewd comments by a senior official.
“When you see large power differentials, when you see men predominantly in higher level positions or positions of authority, those are organizations where sexual harassment is likely to occur,” David Ballard, assistant executive director for organizational excellence at the American Psychological Association, told Healthcare Dive earlier this year.
Women of color face an additional hurdle on the climb up the corporate ladder. Nearly nine in 10 African American women surveyed report race is “very much” a barrier to career advancement, versus 9% of Caucasian women. Around half of Asian and Hispanic women also cited race as a barrier.
The best place to be a woman in healthcare is the northeastern U.S., according to the report. At 24%, Fortune 500 healthcare companies in the Northeast have the highest percentage of female board members, compared with 23% in the West and Midwest and 18% in the South. They are also the least likely to view location as a barrier to career goals.