Report Targets Gender Gap in Healthcare Leadership Roles

no gender equalityAlthough women make up the majority of the healthcare workforce, they are woefully underrepresented in positions of power in the sector.

That’s the conclusion of a new report on the State of Women in Healthcare from Rock Health, which provides early-stage investment to healthcare entrepreneurs.

The report, drawn from industry data and a survey of over 400 women executives, finds that females represent:

  • 34% of executives at the Top 100 hospitals
  • 27% of board members at Top 100 hospitals
  • 21% of board members at Fortune 500 healthcare companies
  • 6% of CEOs of funded digital health companies

There is only one woman CEO at a Fortune 500 healthcare company, Heather Bresch at Mylan.  The largest publicly-traded health company with a woman in the executive suite is Aetna, where Karen Roman is president.

Why the gap?
Respondents to the Rock Health survey almost universally felt that discrimination plays a role in the gender gap, with 96% saying “gender discrimination still exists.” Forty percent of respondents in the survey said “their firms do not support women in their career development.”

Other barriers to career growth cited included lack of confidence, the challenges of work-life balance and a shortage of role models and effective mentoring.  Half of women in the survey felt they have less access to mentors than their male colleagues.

Although the report didn’t look specifically at healthcare IT, other surveys have highlighted similar gender issues. A 2013 analysis by Healthcare IT News of more than 3,000 health IT positions found 75% of senior positions were held by men.

More women, greater return
In a blog post accompanying the release of the Rock Health report, Managing Director Halle Tecco says a third of its portfolio companies have a female founder. Four years ago, the firm began a women’s networking initiative, XX in Health, in part, to help its companies gain access to a more diverse talent pool.

Creating more opportunity for women is good business, writes Tecco. “Companies with women CEOs outperform the stock market, and companies with women on their boards outperform male-only boards by 26 percent.”