NASHVILLE — Women CEOs of hospitals earn 22% less than their male counterparts and even male nurses earn more than female nurses, a panel of healthcare executives observed at the Modern Healthcare Women Leaders in Healthcare Conference.
The 22% difference equates to about $132,000 in annual income, said Paula Song, program director at the University of North Carolina Department of Health Policy and Management in Chapel Hill. Song led a CEO compensation study that is being vetted for publication. The study looked at IRS filings from 1,500 not-for-profit hospitals to get the data, according to Song.
Male nurses on average earn $5,000 more annually than female nurses, even though they comprise just 5% of the nurse workforce, Song said.
The income disparity as well as the far fewer numbers of women in C-Suite executive positions speak to biases brought to hospital cultures and the need for more mentoring of women executives, said Gloria Goins, chief diversity and inclusion officer at 19-hospital Bon Secours Health System.
Goins joined Song and Yale New Haven Health System CEO Marna Borgstrom on an afternoon panel on gender diversity in healthcare.
Goins said hospital executive committees need to actively seek input from women at meetings to ensure they are heard, with mentors shepherding shy members to ask that they be heard.
FB01At Bon Secours, Goins said the CEO is coached to seek out contrarian voices in meetings. The top 25 executives across the system meet monthly and reserve five minutes for frank discussions on diversity and inclusion that might not be aired otherwise.
Women, including nurses, need to be aware that they can sometimes consciously or subconsciously try to sabotage the progress of younger nurses vying for leadership roles, she said. "We need to stop eating our young," Goins, an attorney, said.
Panel moderator Christy Harris Lemak, professor and chair of the department of health administration at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said research shows women tend to fall out of contention for top hospital spots between five years and 15 years post-graduation.
That's when they start thinking about families or have to care for parents, eventualities that hospitals can anticipate if they are aware to keep women on executive tracks, Lemak said.
Borgstrom said twice-monthly senior executive sessions at Yale New Haven also is the place where executives are encouraged to air any inclusion issues that might crop up.
She said one male executive was informed that he talked over female executives at times and that he was unaware that he was doing it.
"They may not even know," Borgstrom said.