Women are prevalent in the healthcare workforce in the United States, constituting roughly 70% of these professionals.1 This is not however reflected in the case of healthcare leadership or radiology. Women occupy about 30% of all high-level leadership positions and roughly 13% of all CEO positions. Similarly, roughly 23.1% of radiologists were female in 2018. The low number of women in both the healthcare industry in general and radiology specifically is believed to result partially from the lack of female role models but may see an increase in response to the high number of women enrolling in medical school.
Importance of gender diversity
Gender diversity requires having both males and females working in the same space, either physically or remotely. There are a few different benefits of having more diverse executive teams that have been identified. For one thing, diversity in the workplace can open the door to a wider variety of perspectives.2 This is sometimes because of people’s preconceptions about different races and genders. These preconceptions may create disparity between a person’s treatment of one person compared to another. Experience can often influence the importance placed upon fixing an issue or funding a project. If one of the decision makers has experienced, or knows someone who has experienced a related hardship, they are more likely to be an advocate for this project.1 In addition to providing different perspectives, diversity has advantages financially and with employee satisfaction. A new study found that Fortune 500 companies with a higher representation of women on their top management teams experience better financial performance than those with fewer women.1 Likewise, companies with a higher percentage of female executives may be more highly rated by their employees than those with a lower percentage.3
Many children decide what career they want based on the role models that they see in the public spotlight or in their everyday lives, even if their career choice changes. A lot of little kids say they want to be firemen or police officers, because they see shows or people on the news that demonstrate these jobs. The influence a role model can have may show itself well into adulthood. Some people decide what career they want or can achieve based on the people they see as inspiring. However, this can leave certain fields with a huge disparity between men and women personnel.
Due to the low number of female executives in healthcare, those women who are interested in these roles often don’t have the variety of mentors that men have.1 Additionally, most women in healthcare felt that their male peers have more role models than they do.4 Because of this, they may also find it difficult to cultivate their own network. However, women have begun forming women's organizations and groups to help counteract this. Women can join one of these groups and expand their network, as well as receive support and gain momentum for women in radiology and healthcare leadership. Low visibility of women in radiology can also cause female medical students to veer toward fields such as pediatrics, which has some highly visible women.5
Despite the low ratio of female to male executives, more and more women have been enrolling in medical school lately. In 2018, roughly 50.9% of applicants to medical schools were female.6 This is the first time since 2004 that more women than men applied to medical school. This comes the year after women outnumbered men in medical school enrollment. As more women enter the field, it is the hope of many that women will begin to take more leadership roles. However, it may be important that these prospective females are mentored and supported by their peers and those females already in the field, which could be achieved through the use of organizations designed specifically for women in healthcare.
Diversity among employees can help broaden the experiences and perspectives of a company, which could allow a healthcare company to be interested in more areas of research and treatment options. Women in high positions may also improve the financial outcomes and overall rating of their companies, which ultimately improves morale and the number of people that want to work for a company. Women are currently pushing for more spotlight on females in healthcare leadership and radiology, as well as becoming important decision makers within their companies.
1. Rina Raphael. "Here's why we need way more women in healthcare leadership." FastCompany.com. 14 January 2019. Web. 12 February 2019. <https://www.fastcompany.com/90291711/heres-why-we-need-way-more-women-in-healthcare-leadership>.
2. Anicka Slachta. "Women continue to be underrepresented in radiology workforce throughout US." RadiologyBusiness.com. 21 May 2018. Web. 13 February 2019. <https://www.radiologybusiness.com/topics/quality/women-continue-be-underrepresented-radiology-workforce-throughout-us>.
3. Nicole Fisher. "600+ Women Open Up About Working In Health Care In 2018." Forbes. 27 July 2018. Web. 12 February 2019. <https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicolefisher/2018/07/27/600-women-open-up-about-working-in-health-care-in-2018/#4340d5f41681>.
4. Halle Tecco. “Women in Healthcare 2017: How does our industry stack up?” RockHealth.com. 2017. Web. 19 February 2019. <https://rockhealth.com/reports/women-in-healthcare-2017-how-does-our-industry-stack-up/>.
5. Deborah Abrams Kaplan. "Why Aren't There More Female Radiologists?" Diagnostic Imaging. 17 December 2015. Web. 13 February 2019. <https://www.diagnosticimaging.com/practice-management/why-arent-there-more-female-radiologists>.
6. "Women Were Majority of U.S. Medical School Applicants in 2018." AAMC.org. 4 December 2018. Web. 25 February 2019. <https://news.aamc.org/press-releases/article/applicant-data-2018/>.