My mother had to go to work to support four children after my father died from cancer. I was active in the women’s movement in my college years. So, I can’t imagine women not having a career outside the home if they so choose or if they have to support themselves and their families.
Although I was very interested in math growing up, I got into IT somewhat by accident; I had wanted to be a math teacher. But in the late 70’s the field of computer science was exploding, and there was an easy entry path. I went to a technical school and got a certificate in programming. I learned to code in 7 different languages (I doubt that any of them are still remotely useful). I didn’t work as a programmer for long but stayed on the IT path. I worked as an analyst for a while and then moved into management in 1984.
Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day (TODASTW) is coming up soon: April 28th. Last year, we had a very successful event at University of Michigan Health System, and I’m hoping they are doing it again, even bigger and better this year. I’ve learned that we don’t do any TODASTW programs at UH, and with everything else on my plate, I wasn’t going to try to start it in our IT department.
Technology is a significant part of our future, both as workers and consumers. Technology jobs are some of the highest paying jobs. We should be encouraging both boys and girls to pursue STEM fields — in particular, technology — if they are interested.
Girls and boys should be able to pursue whatever field of study and career sparks their interest. As parents, we should encourage them to pursue their dreams. As hiring managers, we should consider men and women equally for the same positions. And we must ensure pay equity for the same experience, education, and work.
April 12 was Equal Pay Day. That’s not a Hallmark card holiday or even one that women want to celebrate. Quite the opposite. It’s the day in the New Year when women’s pay has caught up to men’s earning of the previous year. That’s based on women typically still earning only 79 percent of what men earn.
And health IT is no exception. The December 2015 HIMSS Compensation Survey found that female health IT workers are being marginalized in this sector of the economy, with women consistently earning less than their male counterparts. The survey results, when analyzed in several different ways, found women are also “under-represented in IT-related executive and senior management roles in the health sectors.”
Additional research from the 27th Annual HIMSS Leadership Survey points to the impact clinical IT executives have on a healthcare organization’s orientation toward IT, suggesting an opportunity for healthcare organizations to ensure their clinical IT executives have a true voice within their organization.
Carla Smith, executive vice president at HIMSS, has been a leader in this discussion. According to Carla, “HIMSS is committed to empowering and advancing women in health IT. We’ve made it our priority to provide and develop further professional resources and recognition to women leaders who are making significant contributions to the field and in their efforts to improve patient care with the best use of IT.”
I applaud HIMSS for their efforts. Let’s encourage more children to study science, technology, engineering, and math. And let’s make sure men and women are paid equally.