Women in health IT today still face gender discrimination in the workplace. The current foundation in the workforce threatens the health, safety, and sense of belonging for health IT women at work. Although the challenges of working in a healthcare agency as a woman can feel daunting, healthcare leaders are urged to make mindful changes in how corporations and employees treat each other.
1. Physical Health
Women in healthcare corporate environments often find they lack the resources to support themselves at work during pregnancy. Without paid leave, remote work, flexible hours, or the freedom to pump at work, many mothers decide to leave their jobs. Employers are not required to pay employees for extra breaks to pump and often feel judged. Health tech leaders should switch the focus from time spent at the desk to productivity and results to give women a more flexible schedule.
2. Intellectual Health
The decision making and judgment of women in HIT are often questioned. Many times speaking up or voicing a differing opinion is viewed as being “bossy” by male/dominant employees. Female intellectual health is more obviously mistrusted by investors. Only 2.8% of capital invested in startups was given to female founders according to Pitchbook. Corporate leaders should allow female colleagues to speak without interruptions and model inclusive leadership behaviors. Supporting transparent pay, as well as empowering health IT employees to negotiate roles, can also show respect for females in the healthcare agency industry.
3. Mental Health
Women in health IT and healthcare often face discrimination disguised as “humor” by male colleagues. An online survey in January 2018 run by Stop Street Harassment, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending gender-based street harassment globally, found that 81% of women have experienced some form of harassment during their lifetime. While the majority of harassment towards women happens in the streets, 38% of women say they experience harassment in the workplace. Healthcare agency leaders are encouraged to implement workplace education campaigns to educate the importance of correcting this type of behavior. It is also very important to ensure women and men have access to workplace reporting mechanisms, as well as training managers to report on any observations of harassment.
The support for women has come a long way, but there is still a lot of work ahead to create a safer and equal environment for employees. Recognizing the faults of the system is where it begins. Remember to support all colleagues and lift each other up. There are so many amazing women in the health tech and healthcare industry that are changing the future of the industry!