Although women now represent more than 50% of medical students in training, they lag greatly behind men in leadership roles, academic titles, wage earnings and ultimately, influence. Of anything I’ve learned through my career it’s that sexism is wide at work. Took me years to feel the glass over my head but I sure have hit my head against it.
This is of course far-reaching outside of medicine, especially digital health. Only 25% of computing jobs are held by women, while only 12% of engineers in silicon valley startups are women. However, women are thought of as the primary owners of health care for families here in the United States. As digital health companies grow and reach to hold and maintain attention for women in with health care services, the industry itself must change the climate and success of the workforce. It is well known that companies with female leaders out-earn those without. And yet, only 2% of venture funding is distributed to women founders. In technology, digital health, and engineering the numbers and experiences for women can feel at times somewhat bleak. From the changing culture of #metoo to sexism in the workplace to wage gap, women in technology, and their male counterparts, face an enormous challenge in “righting” the ship.
This, of course, will change as we bring this up as a regular part of work. And as we raise our children to think carefully about how we work together and how we ensure equal promotion of girls and women in medicine and technology. Melinda Gates, for example, just pledged a billion dollars to increase women’s influence here in the United States. There are new resources stemming up all over these American fields. I’m now 45 years old and squarely at the mid-point of my career, I suspect, and want to make the promotion of talented women who work in medicine and tech a focus, for the rest of it. A couple quick ideas today:
7 Things To Support Women At Work:
- Maybe (please!) stop asking only women how they juggle it all. If you ask only women, please re-check your curiosity. Why is it you don’t ask the men you meet with big careers the same question? I like the question (because being able to answer it means I’m evolving) but often I can experience the question these days as subtle sexism,…as it’s not asked of my male counterparts. I really do think we should still ask but we need to expand the list of who we ask…
- Ask your co-workers about their experiences with sexism at work. Have they felt their sex got in the way of their success? You have one-on-one meetings with your employees. There’s simply no excuse for not asking about it. Listen to women or men who have stories of sexism. What you do next will depend upon what you learn from their stories and how you might help.
- If you’re a manager of anyone, check in on how your pay equity is across your team and your talent. If you work for a big organization or company, ask your HR group to run a wage-gap analysis on your team. Are there differences? Can you explain them (years of experience, years of tenure, number of degrees, etc). Even so, is there a wage gap? When you find there is, do you hear a list of excuses? Make sure you are taking into account time women needed to be away from work for family health support, maternity leave where men wouldn’t have lost that time.
- If your team isn’t 50% women, strive to think about why? Is your team an engaging place to work as a strong woman? Ask strong women in the organization if they think it is.
- Listen to Taylor Swift here — I mean it.
- If you work with women interested in software development, deep tech or enterprise solutions, tell them about the Female Founders Competition. Applications are still open. Millions of dollars to be shared and a huge, meaty community that can help build businesses.
- Ensure women you work with make time and build relationships with mentors. And please remember that men make amazing mentors to women. In fact some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten about my career, and the complexities of being a women in medicine and technology, have come from wise men. Hyper-intelligent men today are the ones confident enough to realize that their work includes promoting and positioning talented women around them. And that when they do, it increases their own long-term success.