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Women in Healthcare

Fixing the Gender Gap in Healthcare Leadership

Women currently represent 75 percent of the healthcare workforce and make 80 percent of household health decisions, but they navigate a system largely dominated by male leadership.

Recent reports show that within healthcare, only 13 percent of CEOs and 30 percent of executive leaders are women.

Why is this important? Studies show that having more women in leadership improves an organization’s performance metrics – innovation, fiscal productivity, and employee satisfaction. Female CEOs have been noted for their emotional intelligence, team approach, and resilience. More women in leadership may also reduce the gender pay gap and improve workplace climate, an essential factor in preventing sexual harassment.

Achieving equity

Within medicine, this gender gap still persists despite near equivalent matriculation to medical school for the past 15 years. Yet the distribution of women in academia remains skewed toward the lower ranks – 60 percent at the instructor level are women versus 25 percent at full professor, and only 16 percent of medical school deans and 18 percent of department chairs are women. We no longer have a pipeline problem. We have a leadership problem.  

What can be done to achieve gender parity? Individual professional development is important, but institutional change is necessary to achieve equity at all levels. Examples include expanded parental leave policies, flexible promotion timelines, and alternative tenure tracks. Hiring procedures must be transparent, and raising awareness of unconscious bias is crucial, especially for members of search committees. An equitable number of qualified women should be on every list of individuals being considered for executive leadership positions. 


Increasing gender diverse leadership requires not just mentorship but, more importantly, sponsorship and formal leadership training. Organizations like TIME’S UP Healthcare, the American Medical Women’s Association, and the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association advocate for gender equity and provide support, networks, and resources to women in the health professions.   

Women are vital participants in this healthcare dialogue. Studies have shown that women physicians provide more patient-centered care, adhere more closely to preventive medicine guidelines, and have slightly better outcomes than their male counterparts.

Never has there been a better opportunity to bridge the gender gap in healthcare leadership. This is not just a women’s issue; it is a health imperative. Increasing women’s leadership will more effectively align all stakeholders, transforming our current healthcare system to provide better care for patients.

Eliza Lo Chin, MD, MPH

American Medical Women’s Association

Connie Newman, MD

American Medical Women’s Association

Roberta Gebhard, DO

American Medical Women’s Association

Nicole P. Sandhu, MD, Ph.D

American Medical Women’s Association

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