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Women in Leadership in Healthcare: Achieving Gender Equity 

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By Dr Brighton Chireka 

We’re living in a time where the gender gap is narrowing and women are increasingly taking leadership positions across various industries. However, in healthcare this isn’t always true; female physicians, nurses and other medical professionals oftentimes find themselves struggling to break through the proverbial “glass ceiling” that often plagues their profession. Women account for 70% of the global healthcare workforce, yet they make up only 25% of healthcare executives. International Women’s Day 2023 brings us #EmbraceEquity — an opportunity to come together to confront why equal opportunities can be exclusionary rather than inclusive, ultimately advocating for equity instead of equality.  This year’s theme — “Embrace Equity”— emphasises the need to move from equality to equity. At first glance, the words “equity” and “equality” may seem like synonyms; however, International Women’s Day 2023 sets to get us talking about why simply offering “equal opportunities” is no longer enough. Rooted in Latin terms for evenness or fairness – ‘aequus’ and aequalitas/aqualitas respectively – equity emphasises providing everyone with what they need to achieve success regardless of their circumstances whereas equality focuses on treating all people as if they had identical conditions. With that said, it’s equally important for us to recognise just how far we’ve come in making progress towards achieving real gender equity within the framework of healthcare. This blog post will discuss some key issues surrounding female leaders moving forward as well as outline potential solutions for attaining true equity.

Why Gender Equity Matters in Healthcare 

With advancements in the field of healthcare, it is now easier than ever to access vital treatment and care. Unfortunately, gender equity in healthcare still remains a major issue that imperils the health of our global population. In every nation there are inequalities based on gender, resulting in disparities when it comes to accessing quality healthcare and resources. This can result in a higher risk of long-term illnesses and mortality rates for those with more limited resources. As we approach International Women’s Day 2023 and reflect upon the #EmbraceEquity campaign, we need to focus on why gender equity matters within the healthcare system. Without equitable distribution of resources, access to quality care remains an obstacle for many; this is unacceptable from both an ethical and medical perspective. We must work together towards implementing systems that ensure every individual, regardless of their gender or available funds can receive the necessary support without stress or worry.

The Current State of Women Leaders in Healthcare 

Our world has come a long way since the inception of International Women’s Day over a hundred years ago, and especially in the healthcare sector. Despite making up a majority of the healthcare workforce, women still lag in leadership positions whether that is hospital administrators or faculty positions in medical schools. This 2023 IWD campaign seeks to not just bring attention to this glaring discrepancy but seek tangible ways to change these realities so that we can fully embrace equity in our healthcare institutions and beyond. In order to realize that goal, it is important to recognize existing systemic barriers such as unequal pay, gender-based discrimination, and unconscious bias that have prevented women from ascending leadership roles within healthcare organizations as well as our working culture at large.  #EmbraceEquity serves as an important starting point for us to finally make strides toward achieving true gender equality.

Barriers to Female Leadership in the Industry 

Despite our best efforts, female leadership in the industry is facing more and more barriers; data indicates that the global gender gap between men and women in leadership positions persists. Society must work together to fully understand why these discrepancies exist and actively strive to tear down the barriers faced by women in the workplace – be it discriminatory hiring practices, outdated stereotypes and norms, or unequal pay. Such conversations are at the heart of International Women’s Day 2023 campaign, #EmbraceEquity: sparking dialogue about how equal opportunities can actually uphold inequity rather than promote inclusion. We must go from this point towards increasing equity for all parties involved through tangible initiatives and actions in order to create truly equitable conditions for female leaders in all industries.

How to Create Equal Opportunities for Women 

To create equal opportunities for women around the world, it is essential to focus on creating equitable environments. This means that we should go beyond simply dismantling unjust practices and historical systems of oppression, and instead build new ideas, frameworks and approaches that promote resilience, resourcefulness and sustainability. We must also recognize that equity goes beyond just providing access to resources; it is about ensuring diverse voices are heard and represented in positions of power. As part of this effort, we must continue to celebrate International Women’s Day’s #EmbraceEquity campaign which seeks to spark global conversations about why equal opportunities can be exclusionary rather than inclusive and how we should pursue equity. Together we have the opportunity to bring real change by shifting our focus away from merely rectifying existing unfairness towards creating a future where all individuals—regardless of gender identity—have equal economic autonomy and security.

Encouraging Mentorship and Role Modeling for Young Women 

International Women’s Day is a platform to enter into critical conversations about how equity can help ensure that young women are provided with the resources, knowledge, and support they need to thrive in the 21st century. Our #EmbraceEquity campaign aims to foster an environment where young women are able to look up to role models who provide mentorship and guide them on their path towards success. It is imperative that we invest in young female leaders – becoming actively involved in mentoring them will inspire these brave ladies to persist, grow, and ultimately reach heights beyond their imaginations. Let us commit ourselves to showing our unwavering support of righting long-standing inequities in lifetime opportunity – thus we can begin confidently embracing equality on a global scale.

Practical Strategies to Increase Female Representation in Healthcare Leadership Roles

As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2023, it is time to make a conscious effort towards ensuring that healthcare leadership roles are no longer dominated by male professionals. To make this happen, organizations must be committed to introducing practical strategies aimed at increasing female representation in the sector. This could include devising policies concerning equal pay and opportunities, increasing maternity and childcare support, providing mentorship programmes for female professionals, or introducing quotas to ensure balanced gender representation in decision-making processes. Understandably some of these measures may require extra resources, yet they will not go unrewarded as having more female participation in healthcare leadership roles will bring numerous benefits that can play a major role in driving greater equity in today’s society.

It is clear that if we want to achieve true gender equity in the healthcare industry, then we need to take intentional action. We need to identify and remove barriers and create equal opportunities for female leadership. We can do this by fostering mentorship and role models for young women, encouraging internal programs and interventions, ensuring that all levels of management reflect diversity, setting accountability measures, and promoting diversity from the top down. The #EmbraceEquity campaign is a powerful reminder that real progress towards gender equity involves identifying and addressing systemic issues to create an inclusive environment where everyone has an equal chance to thrive. By recognizing individual opportunities as well as collective efforts, together we can make meaningful progress towards creating an equitable world.


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