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Can Selfishness Break the Glass Ceiling in Health Care?

Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Schmidt

In some industries, the proverbial glass ceiling is tougher to crack. According to a 2013 report from the American College of Healthcare Executives, women only account for 26 percent of executive-level leadership in healthcare, despite making up more than 75 percent of the total healthcare workforce. How is it that so few women have made it to the C-Suite in such a female-dominated industry?

I started Women in Healthcare with a group of tenacious women to change those statistics. Since our founding in 2016, we’ve discovered a consistent trend among our members: women in different stages of their careers in administration, operations and service roles around the country. Nearly all of us are completely dedicated to serving our jobs, families, communities and a million other things. Our board initially believed the natural response to serving such busy individuals would be programming tracks to teach women how to excel in healthcare while learning balance.

As our organization matured, we noticed a trend among our members. Women of every age and every level of their careers — they are tired. They reported that they can never seem to find the time or ability to do the all things they want to do while balancing all the things they need to do. With this in mind, it becomes much easier to understand one big reason women in healthcare are struggling to break through the glass ceiling: They are also struggling to get through each day. They have forgotten self-preservation.

It was then that our organization decided to add a new track to our programming called “Serving//Self,” which cheers selfishness. While we still encourage balance, we found that by offering events that take the shame out of being selfish and nourish the soul, body and mind, we’re building stronger women. By default, these women then make stronger employees and leaders. We encourage an environment where “selfish” is no longer a dirty word, and where women can learn the importance of maintaining a strong mind to support their ever-changing and challenging roles. It is time all women set aside the guilt and shame associated with selfishness, and start to be a little bit more devoted to ourselves.

Ashley Schmidt, President, Women In Healthcare, [email protected]

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