Women’s Voices Largely Missing From Healthcare Conferences

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Rock Health weighs in on how we can fix the issue in 2014. 

By Halle Tecco (Co-founder & CEO, Rock Health)

Where the ladies at? Not on stage at healthcare conferences. Hundreds of leaders were given the spotlight at dozens of healthcare conferences this year, but we couldn’t help but notice the uncomfortable dearth of women on stage.

I spoke at 22 events this year, most looked like this.

We wanted to know the actual numbers, so the XX in Health team looked at speaker demographics from 11 of the 12 largest conferences of 2013 (we couldn’t access speaker lineup from HIMSS).  Here’s the dismal data:

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At very best, women were still just 38% of the faces on stage. Even our team failed at diversity on stage—our annual Health Innovation Summit clocked in at only 36% female speakers. We have to do better than this.

Why? Women are a driving force in healthcare. They are the Chief Medical Officers of the home, making 80% of health care decisions for their families (United States Department of Labor). As we watch the consumerization of healthcare unfold before us, it will only become more important to have women join men and share their experiences on stage.

We all know there are fewer women in leadership positions than men (e.g. women make up just 14% of the Fortune 500 healthcare company boards, and only one CEO). In addition, these women are in demand and have to turn down speaking opportunities at a higher rate. From our experience inviting speakers to Health Innovation Summit 2013, males were 20% more likely to accept our invitations than females. We also received at least a dozen inbound requests from men to speak, and not a single e-mail from an opportunistic female speaker.

Let’s make it really, really easy for conference organizers to learn about amazing women working in healthcare. Do you know awoman who deserves some stage time? Just add her information here. We’ll share with conference organizers around the world. View the list of speakers nominated here.

We have the opportunity to make our industry more diverse and dynamic, starting with healthcare events in 2014. We can and should set a better example for the industry, and for the next generation of leaders.

Learn more about our XX in Health initiative.

This post originally appeared on the Rock Health blog

Got a woman you’d like to see on stage at the upcoming Women 2.0 conference? We’re also accepting nominations.

0ffc46eAbout the blogger: Halle Tecco is co-founder and CEO of Rock Health, a full-service seed fund at the intersection of healthcare and technology. Previously she worked in business and corp finance roles at Apple and Intel, and founded the non-profit YogaBear. She has an MBA from Harvard Business School