Women leaders in health IT: You can control your own destiny

Even in today’s tumultuous political environment, do not let others seal your fate, prominent women in healthcare and technology contend. Instead, embrace diversity, resilience and tenacity and strike a work-life balance.
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Women leaders in health IT

Troutman Sanders Partner Erin Whaley.

The news cycle can feel both empowering and daunting for women working professionals today and that’s at least as true in healthcare as any other industry. 

Between the wave of abuse allegations, to the Trump administration dropping the rule that tackles wage gaps and discrimination, the current political and media climate is tense, to say the least.

But with the brave women coming forward and sharing their stories, along with advocacy groups like Democracy Forward and the National Women’s Law Center demanding Trump reinstate the scrapped equal pay reimbursement, women are fighting back to ensure equality.

[Also: Career advice from women leaders proves health IT isn't a boys' club anymore]

For women healthcare leaders, this challenge is all too real. Not only are they facing the same challenges as executives in other sectors, but they also have to contend with today’s healthcare concerns. 

To Troutman Sanders Partner Erin Whaley, it’s crucial to hone into the nuances of the industry.

“Given the media and political environment, I think it becomes more of a struggle for women to remember that they can control their own destiny,” said Whaley. “Their fate does not have to be sealed by the actions of others.”

One of the biggest challenges for women in the industry is striking the right work-life balance, she explained. “That balance looks different for each woman, but figuring out what it looks like for you, then actually achieving it is a continuing struggle.” 

M*Modal CMIO Gilan El Saadawi said diversity is women’s strength and it’s helping them to advance in health IT, albeit perhaps still more slowly than men. 

“Women can have both a career and a family as skillful multitasking is one of the most important qualities women possess,” El Saadawi added. “Do what you think is right without thinking of what is popular, believe in yourself, and you will get what you are owed in the end.” 

That said, it’s also important to understand that many of the challenges are likely to be harder than you initially expect, according to CedarBridge Group Founder Carol Robinson. 

“Tenacity and resilience and a lot of energy are the best assets.,” Robinson said. “I’ve always said that my success thus far has been due to two things: my network and my hard work.”

Whaley added that women in health IT should consider what they hope to accomplish within the field, as it’s so tremendously varied, Whaley explained. 

“Healthcare is a unique animal and if you don’t understand the business dynamics and drivers, it will be difficult to give your clients good counsel,” Whaley said. 

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com

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