Women continue to represent most of the health workforce worldwide yet remain the minority in global health leadership. “Only 31% of the world’s ministers of health are women, and among the chief executives of the 27 health care companies in the 2017 global Fortune 500, only one is female,” report Dean Patricia M. Davidson, PhD, MEd, RN, FAAN, and other members of the Steering Committee of the Women Leaders in Global Health Conference.
“The complexity of global health problems demands leadership that represents the pluralism in society,” the authors insist. “This movement is not about preventing men from holding women back, but about collectively embracing a new vision for leadership across many axes, not just gender. Continued efforts should be intergenerational and inclusive of all disciplines.”
They acknowledge a double-edged sword: The fight to gain leadership positions is so difficult that women resist sharing power by bringing others along.
For these and other reasons, the authors presented a “Call to Action from the Women Leaders in Global Health Conference.”
- Increase visibility—“Ensure gender balance when organising events, panels, roundtables, guest lecturers, or reading lists.”
- Lift women up the ladder—“Systematically include women in panels, invited authorship of manuscripts, grant reviews, award nominations, and requests for proposals. Organise formal and informal ways to teach leadership skills.”
- Advocate for work-life integration—“Foster an organisational culture and establish norms that support men and women in integrating demanding careers with responsibilities outside the workplace.”
- Eliminate the pay gap—“Report on and increase transparency of data on compensation and salaries.”
- Cultivate thought leadership—“Organise an event, workshop, or training to discuss the issue of inclusive leadership in the organisation. Use an intersectional lens to incorporate the needs of all, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex community, people of colour, and under-represented disciplines.”
- Address the gender data gap—“In all sectors, collect data and report on pay equity, career progression, and barriers to diversity in leadership. Ensure the disaggregation and analysis of data by gender in all research and programmes.”
- Emphasize accountability—“Adopt evidence-based practices to promote and support inclusivity and representation in governance at all levels. Create indicators and monitor progress toward stated goals.”
Publication: The Lancet