Work-life integration needed to attract female healthcare leaders

Attracting female leaders in healthcare requires organizations create the right culture, according to a Harvard Business Review blog post. That means aligning flexibility policies with the work environment.

To do so, Stanford School of Medicine, located at Stanford (Calif.) University Medical Center, launched a program to make its flexibility policies--such as unpaid leave for up to a year after the birth or adoption of a child, up to $5,000 in grants a year for childcare and on-site childcare options--a key component of the faculty advancement process.

By helping faculty better combine life and work goals, the program would erase concerns that medical professionals will look less committed to their careers if they take advantage of flexibility policies or that they're reduced schedules mean they are piling more work on to already overburdened colleagues, HBR noted.

The positive response to Stanford's pilot program suggests increasing the cultural acceptance of work-life integration policies could enable women to make inroads into healthcare leadership positions. According to a survey of the program's 50 faculty members across six divisions, participants value an in-depth career planning process that focuses on work-life issues, HBR reported.

The program comes amid a wide gender gap in healthcare leadership ranks. For instance, less than 20 percent of hospital CEOs are women, according to a KevinMD blog post last week. In academic medicine, only 4 percent of full-time professors and 12 percent of department chiefs are women. And new research shows women remain underrepresented in the specialty of radiology as well.

The lack of active women physicians and leaders is puzzling given that women are collaborative, empathetic, motivated to make a difference, and the healthcare decision-makers of the home--all factors that should qualify them for leadership positions in the field, according to KevinMD.

For more:
- here's the HBR  blog post
- read the KevinMD post