In January HIMSS announced the second annual Most Influential Women in Heath IT Awards. The recipients included a clinical informatics thought leader, the Chief Nursing Officer at IBM Global Healthcare, an executive leading the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program and the head of the Defense Health Agency for the Military Health System.

Clearly there are innovative and influential women leading the digitization of healthcare and the adoption of Health IT. But these leaders don’t always receive the same recognition or compensation as their male counterparts.

The main challenge, which is a vicious circle, is being a minority in leadership positions,” according to eHealth pioneer Denise Silber. “When a position is to be filled – whether it is a job or even a speaker’s role – it is more likely that the decision maker is a male, who knows more males than females.”

The gender pay gap in Health IT

Women’s minority status in health IT leadership is reflected in an industry-wide gender compensation gap, according to a recent report.

The HIMSS 2018 compensation report is a global survey of professionals involved in the direct management, development or support of health IT in provider organizations. The following three statistics reflect 855 US respondents from their 2018 survey, synthesized in a presentation focused on women and people of color in health IT (learn more here).

1) Yes, there is still a compensation gap

The HIMSS survey found that women respondents make less on average than their male counterparts. Average salary for male professionals was $123,244 compared to $100,447 for females. This is consistent with past HIMSS surveys.

2) The compensation gap is smaller for young professionals

Responses show that male and female respondents aged 44 and under are compensated more fairly than older professionals (45 and above). This may reflect more recent efforts by employers to level the playing field with initial hiring and salary decisions.

The health IT gender pay gap varies by age, according to a recent HIMSS report

3) The gender pay gap is higher for executives

Women in executive positions experience the largest compensation gap with average salaries that are 22 percent less than their male counterparts. The gap is smaller for management and non-management professionals (10 and 5 percent less, respectively).

The 2018 US Compensation Survey was also the first time HIMSS asked respondents for more detailed demographic information. Based on this information, their report finds a racial pay gap in the HealthIT industry that affects both men and women.

This means that non-white females earn on average 28 percent less than white males, according to the report. The HIMSS authors note that this “double jeopardy” remains a very real issue in Health IT.

Growing efforts to recognize women in leadership

The gender pay gap is just one factor encouraging recent efforts by the Health IT community to focus on women in leadership positions.

The HIMSS learning center now has a channel devoted to Women in Health IT, which was created to offer “professional resources to generate discussion, provide advice, advance careers and encourage mentoring through virtual education.” Healthcare IT News also has a devoted Women in Health IT Resource Center with news, videos, blogs and resources. HIMSS Europe is currently conducting a survey to determine what challenges women face and what opportunities they have leveraged along their career path.

The HIMSS Most Influential Women in Heath IT is also just one of the annual awards focusing on female leadership in the industry. FierceHealthcare has been compiling an annual list of 8 women who are reshaping health IT for several years now, and Health Data Management recently accepted nominations for their third annual Most Powerful Women in Healthcare IT Awards.

As FierceHealthcare puts it simply, “These are hardly the only women making their mark in the industry, but the nominations provide a snapshot into just a few of the ways female leaders are helping to reshape healthcare in new and innovative ways.”

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