Powerful women panel in health IT sparks remembrances of problems past

‘Were these obstacles? Yes. But they all made me stronger’
By Sue Schade
01:23 PM

Sue Schade says past obstacles in her career has made her stronger.

My first professional event since moving back to New England is tonight, November 7. Boston Health 2.0 is a chapter of the national Health 2.0 organization. They hold monthly meetings to promote and catalyze new technologies in healthcare.

The November event is a panel titled “The Power Women of Health IT: Path to Success”.
All powerful women have advice to give others and stories about obstacles they’ve overcome. This group of women panelists is no different and I’m excited to be part of it. Helen Figge, senior vice president, Global Strategies and Development at LumiraDx, USA; Cara Babachicos, corporate director/CIO, Community Hospitals, Partners Healthcare.

The panel will cover advice on entrepreneurship for women, how women can influence the health IT industry, differing perceptions of competency in men and women, importance of mentorship, how men can be more supportive of professional women, and obstacles we’ve overcome in our own paths to success.

But which obstacle should I comment on? Looking back to my early days in management, unfortunately there are many stories to share.

There was the male colleague who had it out for me during a five-year period when I was the only woman on the IT leadership team (it was the 80’s). One of the things he did early on was to spread a rumor that I was only in management because I was related to a board member with the same last name. It was so not true; I didn’t even know the board member. As he continued to be combative and uncooperative in our work together, he told me he’d deny anything I said that he said just to intimidate me. He even came into my office one day, shut my office door, held the doorknob and threatened me. Yes, I survived all his bullying behavior and eventually let our boss know what was going on. But it was our next boss who eventually showed him out the door.

In a different situation, I had to report a male colleague from another department for sexual harassment and face all the questions and doubts about what happened. And for years, I balanced the responsibilities of two young children while moving up the management ranks and attending an MBA program in the evenings.

Were these obstacles? Yes. But they all made me stronger. The takeaway is you must speak up and not tolerate bad behavior from others. And be sure to create a strong support system at work and at home.

On the eve of an historical election day when the first woman from a major party is the presidential nominee and stands a very good chance of being elected the first female president of the United States, why not talk about “power women” in health IT and their path to success?

This post was first published on Sue Schade's Health IT Connect blog.