For more than a year I have spoken at length with women physicians, leaders at healthcare organizations, and members of professional healthcare groups about barriers holding women back in their careers. Through my research, I identified four main barriers that can keep women from advancing to the highest leadership positions in healthcare:
- Competing priorities
- Bias for the status quo
- Limited access to Power Circles
Recognizing these barriers is important because they significantly affect the number of women who attain leadership roles. Though women comprise more than 80 percent of the healthcare workforce, just around 30 percent reach the executive level, according to a 2021 report from OliverWyman.com. A lack of female leaders results in less innovation and fewer diverse perspectives, negatively affecting patient care and healthcare outcomes.
Understanding these obstacles lets women leaders who currently face them know they’re not alone and creates new insight into how to help themselves and the women around you. As an individual, we may not be able to change an organization, but we can respond differently and help others, too.
Over the next few months, I will be sharing articles that delve deeper into how to overcome each of these barriers. First, regardless of the specific barrier, there are some strategies and approaches that can be effective for women in overcoming obstacles and advancing in their careers:
- Build self-confidence: Cultivate a strong belief in your own abilities and value. Recognize and celebrate your achievements and strengths. Develop a positive mindset and challenge any negative self-perceptions or biases.
- Seek support and mentorship: Connect with mentors, both women and men, who can provide guidance, advice, and support. Seek out role models who have successfully navigated similar challenges and learn from their experiences.
- Develop a growth mindset: Embrace a mindset of continuous learning and growth. See obstacles as opportunities for learning and improvement rather than as setbacks. Embrace challenges, take risks, and persevere in the face of adversity.
- Build networks and connections: Actively engage in networking and relationship-building activities. Attend industry events, join professional associations, and seek out opportunities to connect with others in your field. Building a strong network can provide support, open doors to new opportunities, and increase your visibility.
- Advocate for yourself: Learn to confidently communicate your accomplishments, ideas, and aspirations. Take ownership of your career path and actively seek out opportunities for growth and advancement. Be proactive in expressing your goals and seeking the support and resources you need.
- Seek out professional development opportunities: Invest in your skills, knowledge, and expertise through continuous learning and development. Attend conferences, workshops, and training programs to enhance your competencies and stay updated on industry trends.
- Embrace resilience and perseverance: Recognize that facing barriers and setbacks is a normal part of any career journey. Develop resilience and the ability to bounce back from challenges. Stay committed to your goals and maintain a positive mindset even in the face of obstacles.
- Support and uplift other women: Create a culture of support and collaboration by lifting up other women in your field. Celebrate their successes, share resources and opportunities, and create a supportive community. By supporting each other, women can collectively overcome barriers and drive positive change.
These strategies can be effective in addressing various barriers and challenges that women may face in their careers. By applying these approaches and adapting them to specific situations, women can navigate obstacles and continue progressing towards their professional goals.
To assess your leadership barriers, take my 3-minute Leadership Barrier survey and receive immediate, personalized feedback and tips to handle your own challenges.