Women in Healthcare Leadership Roles: Contributions to Healthcare Governance

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 08:45
Oral Presentation
Ivy BOURGEAULT, University of Ottawa, Canada
Healthcare leadership is a key component of healthcare governance; the composition of those leadership roles is in turn a key problematique. While we know that the healthcare workforce is predominantly female, in Canada nearly 80%, disproportionately fewer women are in healthcare leadership roles. Women lead fewer than 20% of hospitals and only 4% of other health care organizations. Women leaders are also “uniquely positioned to leverage traits such as compassion, transparency, and the ability to foster teamwork” (Fontenot 2012) to transform health care. The growth of women’s leadership in health sciences is critical to advancing scientific inquiry to foster the generation of new knowledge to improve health and health care. In this paper, we present preliminary data from an ongoing research project entitled, Empowering Women Leaders in Health. In this first phase, we have collected and analysed descriptively women's preponderance in four key leadership roles using the Canadian province of Ontario as an exemplar: 1) women's participation at the governance level on hospital, local health integration networks and public health unit boards; 2) women's participation in senior management levels in healthcare organizations as CEOs, Presidents and Vice Presidents; 3) women in leadership roles in healthcare sciences, including as Deans and Associate Deans; and 4) women in health professional leadership roles, as CEOs, Presidents and Vice Presidents of professional associations and regulatory bodies. We discuss the varying degrees of involvement of women in these different health care leadership roles and the systemic economic, social, and institutional barriers they experience achieving these leadership positions. We also discuss with reference to the recent UN High Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth which calls for action to “maximize women’s economic participation and foster their empowerment through institutionalizing their leadership, addressing gender biases and inequities in education and the health labour market.”