New Report Examines Barriers for Women in Reaching Leadership Positions in Healthcare

A new report produced by IntraHealth International and Johnson & Johnson Inc. finds that discrimination, bias and stereotyping inhibit opportunities for female nurses to develop skills, perpetuate the gender pay gap and result in unequal treatment in the health workforce between women and men around the world. According to the report, women make up 70 percent of the total health and social care workforce yet comprise only 25 percent of health system leadership roles.

The findings and recommendations were drawn from a survey of 2,537 nurses and nurse-midwives from 117 countries around the world. Key research findings from the report include:

* The perception of nursing as a feminine and nurturing profession and the devaluation of work associated with women were cited as barriers to women’s advancement in the profession and the status of nursing in the health workforce.
* Nurses perceive the effects of both a glass ceiling — when female nurses are inhibited from advancing professionally, often due to domestic responsibilities — as well as a glass escalator — when male colleagues with less experience advance rapidly due to cultural advantages.
* Respondents overwhelmingly reported that challenges balancing unpaid and paid work affect women more than men in nursing.
* Nurses perceive limited decision-making authority regardless of gender.

It’s essential that the direct perspectives of nurses on issues of gender equality and leadership inform the global agenda on nursing and universal health coverage,” says Constance Newman, senior team leader for gender equality and health at IntraHealth and principal investigator. “That’s why we conducted this research, to better understand and aggregate the extent to and ways in which nurses experience gender barriers as impediments to leadership, so they can be addressed by global, national and institutional policymakers.”

IntraHealth International is a global health organization that works with countries around the world to make sure their health workers are trained and supported. The full report Investing in the Power of Nurse Leadership: What Will It Take? may be downloaded by clicking here.

Filed Under: Research/Study

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