The Underrepresentation of Female Chief Executive Officers in Healthcare: A Phenomenological Study
University of Phoenix
Introduction According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Women’s Bureau, 47% of the total of the U.S. labor force is made up of women. Women are also slated to account for 51% of the labor growth in the next coming years. In a recent survey, conducted by the Women’s Bureau in 2013, there were four major industries in which women held the largest percentage of jobs. Education and healthcare services seemed to top the list with 33.2%. Throughout history, women have been on the forefront of leadership within the healthcare industry. For instance, in early hospitals Catholic nuns performed managerial, clinical and support duties within the hospital.
Background of Problem Statement Women make up 78% of the workforce (Kirchheimer 2007), but only 24% of women held senior executive positions and 18% held the position of hospital CEO (Hauser, 2014). Although, the numbers of women in executive leadership positions are on the rise, there are many women who are struggling to reach these positions. Even outside of healthcare, a research study conducted in 2011 found only 14% of the executive leadership positions were held by women and 16% held board seats. To further examine this underrepresentation of women in leadership positions 60 Fortune 500 companies had no women on their boards. And 136 had no women in their top executive positions (Catalyst 2011).
Research Design This study utilized a qualitative phenomenological design that was characterized by a process that explored holistic, small sample, through interview and communication in words and numbers (Barber & Korbanka, 2003, p.33). It also used a sample size of 10 female healthcare executives with similar experience and backgrounds. Utilizing the Southeast United States, allowed the study to be managed with little difficulty.
Qualitative Problem Statement Although, women have made many strives toward advancement, the problem that exists is still, an underrepresentation of female executives within business and healthcare organizations. The gender gap exists in CEO leadership in the United States (Catalyst, 2005). In a research survey on career attainments of men and women healthcare executives, 12% of CEOs are female (American College of Healthcare Executives, (2006). Political, economic and social influences have always been deterrents of women to advancement in leadership roles (Porterfield & Kleiner, 2005). Even in today’s society, men have viewed women as being the weaker sex and because of this view men think women are incapable of handling the rigors of the workplace (Albee & Perry, 1998). During the last century, women have begun to work in skilled and unskilled jobs, obtained college degrees and increased their presence within the workplace where previously only men were allowed (Kimble & Olson, 2006). Women have made necessary changes in their personal lives in order to be part of the workforce such as their male peers (Probert, 2005). Many women have pursued higher education to gain more than entry-lever positions in organization (Blau & Kahn, 2007). Although, in today’s healthcare organizations, there are more women and minorities in leadership than in the past. Gathers’ research of 2003 found that women are still under -represented in leadership positions. Purpose Statement The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological research study will be to examine the experience and lives of 10 healthcare executive women in the Southern