Women helm half of Milwaukee's hospitals, bucking the national trend

It's good to be a female healthcare leader in Wisconsin: Half of the hospital CEOs in Milwaukee and its surrounding counties are women, according to the Milwaukee Business Journal.

Women hold 63 of the 441 director seats on the boards of Wisconsin's 50 largest companies across all industries--a ratio of 14.3 percent, according to another Business Journal article. Twelve of the top 50 companies have no women directors, and eight of those also have no women executives, while women make up just 11.8 percent of executives in the top 50 companies.

However, when it comes to healthcare, women head three of the six hospitals in the area, including Froedtert Health, headed by Cathy Jacobson; Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, led by Peggy Troy; and ProHealth Care, headed by Susan Edwards. All the presidents of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare's hospitals in southeast Wisconsin and one in Illinois are women.

Jacobson credits her organization's commitment to promoting diverse talents to executive positions, an effort that has made Milwaukee stand out among national statistics. "Most of the female hospital presidents here all have been appointed within the last five years, so this is a relatively recent trend," Jacobson told Business Journal, adding that it takes a long-term commitment by an organization to achieve diversity.

Michigan also is home to many female healthcare leaders. In Jackson County, almost all the major healthcare organizations are run by women, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

In 2013, 14 percent of healthcare companies' board directors were women and 19 percent of hospital CEOs were women, up slightly from 18 percent of hospital CEOs in 2012, according to Rock Health.

Healthcare has seen an increase in female executives--in Massachusetts half of hospital chief operating officers and a third of chief financial officers are women, according to FierceHealthPayer.

Moreover, at Blue Cross Blue Shield and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care--both of which have female board chairs--women hold five of the 14 seats on the Blue Cross board and five of 12 for Harvard Pilgrim. WellPoint recently made Working Mother magazine's 2014 list of Best Companies for Multicultural Women.

To learn more:
- read the first Business Journal article
- here is the second Business Journal article