Striking the right gender balance
Article posted on: January 6, 2017
When Maxine Mackintosh moved into health IT she realised that, as a woman, she was very much in the minority. Not only were there few women in the industry as a whole, but there were even fewer women leaders. This didn’t present a huge problem for her – she’d always felt comfortable voicing her opinions in male company – but it was stopping the industry from benefitting from a huge amount of intellectual capital. She was determined to do something about it. The result? HealthTech Women UK.
In my 12-odd years as a health IT journalist – and latterly as a conference facilitator within the industry – it has always struck me just how few other women there were at industry events – not just in my native UK, but across Europe as a whole. So much so that I have penned four or five articles on the phenomenon – and have appealed for more female speakers at events that I was moderating.
Little did I know, but another UK woman, now MD of the newly-founded HealthTech Women UK, was thinking along similar lines – and had decided to do something about it.
“I’ve never experienced problems being a woman in a room full of men – if anything it’s worked to my advantage,” says Mackintosh, who started off in neuroscience and moved into health economics, before “falling in love with programming”. “However, for some women, the gender imbalance in health IT is a real dissuader from moving down the health tech route – especially into innovation. I’ve heard some say that working in certain hospitals feels like working in a boys’ club. Others have been put off coding or HIT innovation because they simply couldn’t relate to the hoodies working from their basements that usually got involved in it.”
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