October 4, 2021

Women In Healthcare

woman outlined as a superhero

Women In Healthcare Research

A research project conducted by Lean In and McKinsey based on 11 healthcare companies for which they surveyed more than 10,848 employees and interviewed ten senior executives in North America.

Positive Findings of Women In Healthcare:

  • Healthcare appears to be one of the best industries for working women.
  • Women hold executive management positions at the highest levels, including Emma Walmsley (CEO of GlaxoSmithKline and the first woman to lead a global pharma company), Gail K. Boudreaux (president and CEO of Anthem), and Laura N. Dietch (president and CEO of BioTrace). 
  • There are also many examples of women in healthcare gaining worldwide recognition for their achievements, such as Frances H. Arnold, who in 2018 became the fifth woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
  • Women are the primary consumers and decision makers in the healthcare market, and they make up almost 50 percent of the workforce: much of their advancement and leadership in the field rests on those facts.
  • When comparing the rate of promotions between men and women across industries, the healthcare industry performs better than average, with relatively low gaps across the board. For example, in the critical first promotion to manager, healthcare outperforms almost all other sectors.
Women are better represented in healthcare at all levels than in corporate America overall.

Improvements for Women In Healthcare:

  • Women, especially women of colour, remain underrepresented in leadership positions, and not only at the highest levels. There remain challenges to address in hiring, advancement, and day-to-day experiences that could promote a more flexible and inclusive working culture
  • While women occupy a large share of entry-level line roles, that declines rapidly at more senior levels due to advancement opportunities. 
  • When looking at relative rates of promotion and attrition for women and men in healthcare, our research shows that women lose the most ground to men through external hiring.
Representation of women in healthcare declines at senior-leadership positions, particularly for women of color.

Non-profit Organisations

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We believe women across all levels of the pharmaceutical industry will continue to forge a path forward for future women to lead, support, and empower others.

When WLP originated in Montreal in 2019, it was a small group of women determined to create a safe environment to share, connect, and truly empower one another. Since then, they’ve grown to over 300 members, primarily in the Toronto and Montreal areas. This network is working to expand exponentially to support likeminded women across Canada, as well as internationally, who are pushing boundaries to influence and inspire change in the pharmaceutical industry.

If you’re a woman with a role in, affiliation with, or passion for the pharmaceutical industry, please become a member.

  • We believe women are a catalyst for change.
  • We also believe patients and companies would benefit from balanced leadership in the industry:  more female leaders, less “manels”.
  • As women leaders, we must empower each other, connect ideas, and inspire future leaders.
  • Our purpose at Women Leaders in Pharma is to empower women working in pharmaceutical industry to reach their full potential.
  • We believe there remain barriers – both from the outside and within. We aim to provide a trusted environment where we can honestly discuss these barriers and find solutions to overcome them.
  • We aim to build our skills to help women be business savvy, be brave, be bold, and affect change. We discuss real issues and practical life hacks to help manage responsibilities both on the home and business front.
  • We inspire each other by meeting remarkable women who are role models.


McKinsey & Company, (2019) ‘Women in the healthcare industry’ Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/women-in-the-healthcare-industry [Accessed 1st October 2021]