It’s the industry tasked with caring for our health, but for women working and training within the healthcare industry, it can be a profoundly unhealthy environment. Despite women comprising 80 percent of the healthcare workforce (PDF), the gender wage gap remains one of the largest across industries—as does the rate of sexual harassment. According to the Harvard Business Review, 30-70% percent of female physicians and as many as half of female medical students report being sexually harassed.
Now, the newest affiliate of women’s advocacy movement Time’s Up is targeting the healthcare industry. On February 28, the organization launched Time’s Up Healthcare, “which joins a coalition of women across industries dedicated to advancing Time’s Up’s mission to create safe, fair and dignified work for women of all kinds,” according to a press release, which also read:
Time’s Up Healthcare will specifically focus on driving policies and decisions that result in more balanced, diverse and accountable leadership; addressing workplace discrimination, harassment and abuse; and creating equitable and safe work cultures within all facets of the healthcare industry.
This initiative comes at a time when women comprise only 11% of healthcare CEOs—and while, on average, women make $.80 for every dollar earned by their male peers, according to 2016 findings reported by the Wall Street Journal. Female doctors typically make 64 percent of their male counterparts.
Of course, $.64 on the dollar is only slightly higher than the $.61 made on average by black women in comparison to white men. But according to Vice, as few as two percent of practicing physicians in the United States are black women. In fact, in 2018, Bloomberg reported that the most popular job among black women, home healthcare work, is also one of the lowest paid (PDF), with other top professions among our demographic including Registered Nurses, Personal Care Aides, MED-Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses.
As black women dominate these fields and are identified as those most affected by the wage gap in the industry, presumably, they may also be those most vulnerable to sexual abuse in the workplace. While Time’s Up’s statement didn’t directly address the unique concerns of those working at the intersection of race and gender, through the formation of Time’s Up Healthcare, the organization is aiming to combat both the inequities and insidious sexual misconduct within the healthcare industry.
Inspired by the messages of Time’s Up and galvanized by persistent data on gender inequities in healthcare careers and an entrenched culture of harassment, a handful of women came together to form Time’s Up Healthcare. Over the past six months, Time’s Up Healthcare has grown to a group of 50 founding members and 13 senior advisors, linked to a network of leading institutions in healthcare all rallying around a call to increase safety and equity in the industry.