Debating Gender’s Role in Healthcare Leadership

Some of you may have noticed a new hash tag popping up in healthcare’s tweet stream – #HITChicks was coined earlier this summer by Julie Moffitt, Regional Affairs Coordinator at HIMSS and @HIEChick on Twitter. To me, it was a fun and playful way of bringing together women who actively tweet about various aspects of healthcare.

Men, or #HITDudes, if you will, also joined the conversation:

And let’s not forget:

The article that Michael Gaspar references above, “Healthcare Lacks Female Execs,” pulls stats from a RockHealth report (whose founder, by the way, is a woman), which relates that women account for 73 percent of medical and health services managers, but only 4 percent of healthcare organization CEOs and 18 percent of hospital CEOs. According to the 100 women surveyed for the report, we lack enough self-confidence and simply don’t have enough time to take on executive roles.

Is self-confidence really that much of an issue that it would prevent a woman from taking on a leadership position? I find that particular statistic very surprising, especially considering the number of female healthcare executives in my home state of Georgia – Donna Hyland of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Dee Cantrell of Emory Healthcare, Gretchen Tegethoff of Athens Regional Medical Center, Deborah Cancilla of Grady Health System, Carol Burrell of Northeast Georgia Health System …. We certainly aren’t experiencing a dearth down here.

Of course, anytime you have an article (or a hash tag) that differentiates women from men, you have to consider whether you’re promoting a “problem” that doesn’t really exist anymore. Do we really even need to make distinctions between male and female when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder? Do we owe it to young women to ensure that they have proper role models to look up to – and do those role models have to be the same gender?

It’s a loaded question that I’ll put to you, dear readers. Should we continue to point out the differences between men and women in healthcare leadership positions? Why or why not? Please discuss amongst yourselves in the comments section below.

About the author

Jennifer Dennard

Jennifer Dennard

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.


  • Secretary of HHS Kathleen Sebelius, CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Regina M. Benjamin MD – we seem to have some of the big ones covered.

  • Women leave the work force to have children and then it is a hard trek back to the top at a later age when kids still are the priority. As it has been noted women can take care of themselves when it just them. Still they need to break the glass ceilings and they have been doing a wonderful job of it. Then enter marriage that throws in a whole set of new responsibilities…

    Unless I see a working pop who does all what a single “working mom” does and does them well and still maintains his CEO job….this cycle will continue.

    The women in a marriage become responsible for the TLC part of marriage package which really is not compact that a human can ‘punch in and punch out”. It just sucks and absorbs all of you. A nanny is no substitute for the parent who is incharge of the social and TLC aspects of the marriage.

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