Women in healthcare are doing better than ever but still aren’t at equity with men.

Every year during Women’s History Month, we honor the achievements of women in healthcare. With all they have braved during the Covid 19 epidemic, we feel it’s more important than ever to acknowledge the obstacles women in healthcare still face.

Women make up 80% of frontline, entry-level positions in healthcare yet only 30% of the C-suite.

That was the finding of a 2019 McKinsey & Company Women in the Workplace report. McKinsey & Company partners Gretchen Berlin, Lucia Darino, Pooja Kumar, and consultant Rachel Groh summarized the report’s findings in their 2020 article Women in healthcare: Moving from the front lines to the top rung. Here are more of their findings.

Healthcare is one of the best industries for women.

The report shows that women in healthcare have made progress and continue to report high job satisfaction. Healthcare continues to outperform other industries in representation of women from the frontline to the boardroom (Figure 1). Yet women are still woefully underrepresented in senior positions.

      • Women account for 66% of all entry-level health-care employees compared with 49% across all US industries.
      • While the share of women declines in more senior roles, with only 30% of C-suite positions, healthcare still outperforms all industries.

Figure 1
Women in healthcare decrease in representation across the pipeline, although do better compared to other industries.
Share of employees in healthcare, by level, %

Women of color face even greater challenges in healthcare.

During the pandemic, Black Americans will likely sustain more damage across every stage of the wealth-building journey. Crucially, 39% of jobs held by Black workers (seven million jobs in all) are vulnerable as a result of the COVID-19 crisis compared with 34% for white workers. Black women and men tend to be overrepresented in high-contact, low-wage, essential healthcare jobs but are underrepresented in higher-paid fields such as nursing or physicians.1

      • Across healthcare industries, the share of white women in entry-level positions starts at 46%, gradually declining to 25% at the C-suite (Figure 2).
      • Women of color account for 20% of entry-level representation, but by the C-suite their share has dropped to just 5%.

Figure 2
For women of color, the senior manager or director level presents the steepest drop-off in representation.
Share of employees by gender, race, and level, %

Diversity leads to better performance and a better bottom line.
It’s not just the right thing to do, greater representation of women in management is good for business.
      • Healthcare companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.2
      • Further, organizations with top quartile ethnic and cultural diversity on executive teams outperformed those in the fourth quartile by 36% in profitability.2

Recommended actions healthcare companies can take.

Here are suggested steps healthcare companies can take to improve the representation of women at the manager and senior manager levels.

      • Set a goal for getting more women and women of color into senior management.
      • Put hiring managers through unconscious bias training.
      • Provide targeted support for women of color.
      • Put more women in line for the step up to senior manager.

It’s reality. When women in healthcare do better, we all do.

At REALITYRx, we believe greater diversity resulting in more leadership roles for women in healthcare can help improve the lives of patient and workers alike.

We applaud our colleagues and clients who are at the forefront of the changing role of women in healthcare.

If you’d like to join us, let’s talk.



1. Florant A, Noel N, Stewart S, and Wright J, COVID-19: Investing in black lives and livelihoods, April 2020, McKinsey.com.

2. Dixon-Fyle S, Dolan K, Hunt V, and Prince S, Diversity wins: How inclusion matters, May 19, 2020, McKinsey.com.