Women may comprise half the total U.S. workforce but only 25 percent of senior leadership positions in healthcare technology are filled by women. On top of that, a HIMSS studyconducted in July 2016 found that the pay gap between male and female HIT workers has actually widened over the past decade. A number of initiatives have been launched to turn these statistics around, including highlighting Women in Health IT and STEM Careers for Health among the themes of this year’s National HIT Week.
At KNB Communications, we’re fortunate to work with inspiring women healthcare leaders such as Geeta Nayyar at TopLine MD, Jessica Rader at Konica Minolta Healthcare, and Michelle Troseth of Elsevier Clinical Solutions. While these and other women have broken through the HIT glass ceiling, how can we widen the path for more women in senior health IT roles?
It’s nearly impossible to talk about Women in Health IT without bringing up the #HealthITChicks group. Jennifer Dennard, a member of the #HIT100 list who has deep experience in health IT, had the inspiration to start this engaging group. The members meet monthly via Twitter chat, have a discussion group on LinkedIn, and see each other in person throughout the year at HIMSS and other conferences. “The mission is to help women – with jobs, networking, mentoring, in any way possible,” she told us on the drive home from a healthcare technology conference.
The group alternates between focusing on themes common to the health IT world and topics unique to women in the workplace. Amy Landry, principal of Amy Landry Communications, found the group especially helpful when she was trying to balance being a new (exhausted) mother with a full-time career. “That’s when I started to see the bias and inequality many professional women face. I remember one particular #healthITchicks chat that addressed this head on,” she recalled.
On occasion you’ll even find a man or two participating in the tweet chats to support the cause. John Lynn, founder of Healthcarescene.com and the Health IT Marketing & PR Conference has hosted past chats and is a strong supporter of women having the same advancement and leadership opportunities in the field as their male counterparts.
The relationships built in this group aren’t just virtual. Max Stroud, Lead Consultant with Galen Healthcare Solutions, recently hosted a women’s-only weekend retreat that used the tantalizing Twitter hashtag #bestdinnerpartyever. The purpose was to connect with other group members outside the hectic environment of HIMSS.
“It was reinvigorating and rewarding on so many levels. Connections were made during the weekend that resulted in leads, opportunities, new knowledge, skills and most of all solidifying relationships among the participants,” she commented. Max plans to host future events all across the country.
The future for women in health IT looks bright, but there is work to do and #HealthITChicks is helping to make it happen. This holiday season, Jennifer Dennard will be organizing their second annual holiday giving program, with an as yet to be determined health nonprofit as the charity. She is also looking to establish a website for the groups soon, featuring recaps of the tweet chats and other resources.
To get involved with #HealthITChicks, monitor the hashtag for upcoming chats, which are held on Thursdays at 1pm every month. You can also follow and tweet to @jenndennard.