Reader response to my blog post a couple of weeks ago, "Why Do We Still Have Women Issues?" was a provocative mix, ranging from those who say gender bias in hospital executive suites remains a critical problem to others who pooh-pooh the idea that the still mostly male power-brokers are anything but welcoming to would-be leaders of either gender. I selected a few of the reactions from various health care Linkedin discussion groups to share with you.
Several readers said they are well-aware of gender bias in their own health care organizations. Here are three:
"All the top executives in my hospital are male except for one or two token females. That's even true about the trustees. These men still think the only jobs for women are in nursing, housekeeping or clerical."
"While I see more women moving up in my organization, it's still not happening at the same pace as men. I don't think the male executives in my health system are deliberately biased, they are just more comfortable with someone more like themselves."
"We actually have a woman in the C-suite. She's the CNO, wouldn't you know?"
Others were more skeptical. For example:
"Gender bias? Get real. Nobody even notices whether somebody is a man or woman when they're looking to hire these days. They want the best person regardless of their sex."
"We still have gender bias existing in some parts of the world. Some places, where if you are unfortunate enough to be born male, your parents get a 'man tax' slapped on them. And in other 'less civilized' parts of the world, females are treated like cattle, tortured, denied education, and often suffer gang-rapes by the age of 10. … Hint: Neither of these two systems or conditions exists in the present-day United States."
"You gotta be kidding me. If there's any gender bias going on, it's against men. I see hospital executives bending over backward to hire women and to promote them as quickly as possible, even if there is a man who is more experienced and better at the job."
"I wish we had the luxury of gender bias, though I wouldn't permit it. I am at a rural hospital. We often have trouble finding anyone with the skills to fill some of the positions here. Many skillful people don't want to live in a rural community, and that seems especially to be true of women."
Then there's the middle ground:
"Yes, I absolutely believe it is harder for a woman to move up in the hospital hierarchy at the present time. But that will change quickly. The baby boomers are retiring and the younger generations just don't have the same narrow viewpoints when it comes to women in powerful positions."
"Thank you for your important article. Although I do believe it is getting better for women in health care organizations (and maybe in other areas of business), it is very necessary to keep up awareness. It is the only way to make this issue completely go away once and for all."
"What is the cause of bias? That is a very good and, probably at this point, unanswerable question. Is it innate in the genders? Is it cultural? Age has its own issues, but when comparing men and women at similar ages, men still come out ahead in terms of job opportunity and earnings. Race has little to do with gender bias, but does carry its own biases. And can bias ever be eliminated? Probably not completely, but a level playing field would be a good start."