Blog

Women in Health IT Can Unleash a Huge Advantage #WomenInHIT

Colleagues chatting

Cathie Brown, CGEIT, PMP, CISM, CISSPHIMSS Women in Health IT

There is a wealth of research now that demonstrates enhanced business outcomes when women and other underrepresented groups occupy meaningful and innovative leadership roles. One such study explored the contributors to teams’ collective intelligence. Surprisingly, the intelligence level of individual team members was not found to be a predictor of the collective intelligence of the team, but having more women on the team was associated with higher levels of collective intelligence.

This is one of the many simple examples of unleashing the “diversity and inclusion advantage.”

If organizations want to unleash this advantage, they must of course examine and consider reorienting their culture and company policies. Organizations should take the lead in mentoring women on how to unleash the advantage in their own personal career journey. There are several important areas where women in Health IT can develop stronger skills.

Excelling in Negotiations and Crucial Conversations

The 2018 HIMSS U.S. Compensation Survey found that females are paid 18 percent less than males for the same or similar work responsibilities. This wage gap means women work for free 10 weeks a year.

Women are not only getting paid less, but before salary even becomes an issue, women apply for jobs much less than they could. Studies have shown that women will submit an application only if they feel they are capable of performing all duties as outlined, while men will apply for a job if they think they can handle 60 percent of the duties. We women are selling ourselves short.

Building personal confidence is key to solving this dilemma, but it won’t happen overnight – no matter how simple some of the following tactics may sound. When it comes to seeking job opportunities, women should not look at what skills or experience they don’t have, but rather begin by giving themselves credit for all the knowledge and skills they do have.

Personal confidence is also key when there is a need for crucial conversations or negotiations. Tone of voice goes a long way in demonstrating one is comfortable and competent enough to push back.

Having facts and figures at the ready helps build credibility in conversations and women must come armed with these. Women must learn to be bold and push past the first “no.”

Building Personal Brand and Speaking the “C-Suite” Language

According to a recent Forbes article, for many companies celebrating equality, talent and diversity has become a chief-executive-officer-level issue and one of their core focus areas. Industry leaders emphasize equal pay opportunities and promoting women to higher management levels with bigger responsibilities. Organizations should lead the charge by altering recruiting tactics to seek leadership from a more diverse people set, but women must also proactively seek opportunities at the leadership level.

Having women in top leadership positions is so important in healthcare because our patients are incredibly diverse. Women bring a unique perspective, but their influence can be impeded unless they are in leadership roles. Women must learn to speak C-Suite level language and build their brand confidently to get there.

One close friend of mine, a female chief information officer at a top-100 health system, often suggests women practice giving presentations about themselves. Yes, this sounds awkward, but it works. Seeking out someone you respect to mentor you as you talk about yourself can be a game changer as you practice.

I know so many incredible women in health IT that are driving change in their professional circles. With their help, I’m privileged to lead the VA Chapter of HIMSS Women in Health IT special interest group. Together, we are developing women in the ways I’ve outlined above. I hope more healthcare organizations will join us in unleashing the “diversity and inclusion advantage” at a macro-level in their organizations, but also at a micro-level among the women with whom they serve.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.

Women in Health IT

Upcoming Webinar
Women in Blockchain: Making a Difference in Healthcare through Distributed Ledger Technology
Hear from three women who have established themselves as influential thought-leaders amongst their male colleagues working with blockchain technology. Learn more and register

Women in Health IT Roundtable
Join us in addressing the gender gap in health IT, and the need for more community, resources and recognition of women in the industry

#WomenInHIT
Be part of the #WomenInHIT conversation

Originally published June 14, 2018