“A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman.” – Melinda Gates
Despite the fact that women make the majority (80 percent) of buying and usage decisions in healthcare — and represent 65 percent of the workforce, just 30 percent of senior leadership positions are held by women.
Healthcare, according to a 2019 report, “doesn’t have a ‘women in healthcare’ problem, but a ‘women in healthcare leadership’ problem.” Although studies have shown that diversity in gender, race, and other areas can improve performance — particularly as consumerism plays an increasingly significant role in driving strategies — the playing field is still far from level.
The question, of course, is why this remains to be the case, and what can be done to promote equality in leadership.
In recognition of Women’s History Month, we’ve assembled a collection of quotes from some of the most influential women in the industry on the obstacles they’ve faced, the progress that has been made, and the advice they offer to others.
“It’s important to step back and reflect on how far we’ve come in healthcare IT. I can very much recall several instances where I was the only woman in the room, or one of just a handful of women. I’ve been very fortunate to continue to advance as a woman in healthcare. But at the same time, I don’t want to forget that it’s still a challenge.” – Tanya Townsend, System SVP & CIO, LCMC Health
“I think oftentimes we lack the breadth of perspective of women. The more perspective we have and the more diversity, the more it allows us to understand, and really make better informed decisions and develop more successful teams. I don’t think that women are all that different with leadership style, but I think we have different perspectives.” – Julie Bonello, SVP & CIO, Presbyterian Healthcare Services
“My thinking around it has evolved as I’ve matured. I used to minimize the issues of being a woman executive and a woman in technology; now I’m more readily acknowledging that there are challenges and unique things that we face as females, and being more straightforward about that.” – Laishy Williams-Carlson, VP & CIO, Roper St. Francis Healthcare
I mentor men as well, but since women have traditionally been so underrepresented, that’s been my main focus… We can help one another. We can help to develop techniques. Sometimes you don’t know what helps people and how they learn to break the ice and feel more included. I think we’ve got a lot more of that to accomplish. – Sheree MacFarlane, CIO, HCA West Florida