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Authors

  1. McDonagh, Kathryn J. PhD, RN, FAAN, FACHE
  2. Paris, Nancy M. MS, FACHE

Abstract

Women have had a transformative influence on the health care field as highly effective leaders known to produce superior results. Women make up the vast majority of the health care workforce as well as health care graduates. Women also make most health care decisions on behalf of their families. Yet, despite this omnipresence in health care, there is a dearth of women in chief executive and governance roles. A lack of leadership development and succession planning in health care and other obstacles to career progression make it challenging for women to advance to top leadership levels. The traditional linear career ladder that has existed in health care is not conducive to women's advancement. Women have taken a different pathway to career development referred to as the leadership labyrinth. This is a development process leading to wisdom and insights essential for today's health care challenges. This crucial stage in the evolution of health care calls for new models of care and leadership. The most abundant resource at risk of being overlooked is the optimal engagement of women. Women leaders are the backbone of the health care workforce but have yet to be strategically deployed in key leadership positions. The talents of women leaders can be a significant factor in the transformation of health care.