The Picture's Bright for Women's Leadership in Medicine, Survey Finds

Gina Shaw, MA


September 17, 2015

In This Article

Value on Leadership

That women report being interested in leadership doesn't surprise Janet Bickel, a nationally recognized medical career development consultant and the author of Women in Medicine: Getting In, Growing, and Advancing.

"This is the best data I've seen so far supporting the idea that, indeed, a high percentage of women physicians retain their ambition to make a big difference, to have influence beyond their immediate workplace or immediate work with patients," she says.

These findings support other recent literature about women's aspiration to lead, such as an analysis of thousands of Harvard MBAs published in the Harvard Business Review in December 2014,[1] says Diana Lautenberger, MAT, director of women in medicine and science for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

"This [Medscape report] really challenges the preconceived notions about women's ability to be in leadership," she says. "For a long time, there's been a bias that women don't want to work more hours and don't place value on leadership, but as this study shows, women really do aspire to leadership. They certainly still experience work-life–balance issues, but women do have equal desires to achieve leadership positions as men do."

Women appear to take a wide and altruistic view of the importance of leadership, the survey found. Financial compensation, prestige, and bolstering a resume ranked low on the list of reasons for pursuing a leadership role, while having a positive influence on others in the organization and effecting change were most important to both current women leaders (70% and 68%, respectively) and non-leaders (49% and 57%).


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