It’s still a man’s world when it comes to healthcare leadership, salaries

Share this post on:

Bengaluru: In a concerning instance of the ‘leaky bucket’ phenomenon, women comprise 29% of medical doctors and 80% of nursing staff in the country, but hold only 18% of leadership positions, a report: An Unbalanced Scale’ by philanthropy foundation Dasra, shared exclusively with ET, has revealed. The report is an outcome of the multistakeholder Women in Leadership (WIL) initiative, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).

Despite a significant presence of female workers in entry level roles, the report showed a significant underrepresentation of women in leadership roles, especially at the executive and board levels, across healthcare sub-sectors. Most women are focused on the frontline in low-paying jobs and women across the healthcare workforce, on average, earn 34% less than their male counterparts.

Private hospitals showed a stark gender gap with women occupying only 25-30% of leadership positions despite holding 54% of entry and middle managerial roles. The disparity is also visible in health tech where women comprise 30-40% of the workforce, but only 10-30% of leadership positions. Financial institutions (insurance) have 20-30% women representation but only 10% in leadership roles. The pharmaceutical and biotech sector has only 8% women in the workforce and 5-10% in leadership positions, the report said.

By 2030, the Indian private healthcare sector is likely to see substantial workforce expansion, adding eight million employees and generating 40,000 additional leadership roles. Notably, men are projected to occupy close to 90% of these positions, according to the Dasra report.

To break this pattern, the report stressed on the need for a targeted effort across various intervention stages – recruitment, retention, advancement – as well as policy-level solutions to ensure equitable opportunities for women in leadership roles.

Various factors such as deeprooted gender-based stereotypes questioning women’s commitment and effectiveness, deep-set social norms and gender roles, and absence of flexible work arrangements are contributing to the gender inequity in healthcare leadership.“Barriers to growth are systemic, structural and mindset ones. Within the Indian healthcare sector, women are joining the workforce in equal and more numbers but there are certain teams including sales, marketing or operations which hold the most potential for leadership but have a lower representation of women. Women tend to get pulled into support roles like R&D, admin, HR, legal etc.,” said Shailja Mehta, director at Dasra.Dr Naresh Trehan, managing director of Gurugram-based Medanta-The Medicity explained that with regard to doctors, there are teams which are either predominantly women or men, and some which are a mix. In pathology, for instance, the overwhelming majority is women, while in radiology, leadership positions are shared. “However, in cardiac surgery, for instance, the number of women is far fewer – sometimes because of the dynamics of their family structure, it’s tough to keep the 18-hour schedules the job entails,” Trehan said.

“However, organisations need to give everyone a chance to rise to the top and ensure that no one is discriminated against by gender,” says Trehan.

The report focuses on the private healthcare sector which accounts for about 85% of those employed in India’s healthcare, and includes various sub-sectors such as hospitals, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, financial services, diagnostics, medical equipment and supplies, health technology, etc. The remaining 15% are engaged in the public sector.

“The healthcare sector has a lot to gain by harnessing the power of women across different roles in the sector, and more importantly, in leadership roles,” said Vishal Bali, executive chairman, Asia Healthcare Holdings. AHH companies have around 55% women across various roles including those heading various functions; at Motherhood Hospitals, women make up about 40% of leadership roles.

“Women have a very strong role to play in healthcare delivery enterprises, their high emotional quotient can be transformative from a patient engagement and patient centricity perspective. We have always made a proactive effort to actively engage women in all our enterprises,” said Bali.

“There is a misconception that investing in women is a cost and not a gain. But investing in gender equity is one of the most catalytic investments in the organisation’s future growth and success – that’s the silver bullet,” said Mehta at Dasra.

Share this post on:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *