266132 Community Health Centers and the Development of Women Leaders: What Can the Rest of Public Health Learn?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 1:30 PM - 1:50 PM

Latecia Abraham, DHA(c), MHA , Library Science and Informatics Department, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
Walter Jones, PhD , Department of Healthcare Leadership and Management, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
Thomas Smith, PhD , Center for Academic Excellence, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
Nancy Bracken, DHA , Management Consultant (Self-employed), Pawleys Island, SC
Despite the fact that women are earning an increasing proportion of advanced degrees, they are still significantly underrepresented in executive leadership positions in health care. However, women have been notably successful becoming leaders of Community Health Centers (CHCs). This study investigates what strategies have been successful in helping women shatter the glass ceiling in CHCs. A validated e-mail survey was adapted and administered to a nationwide sample of CHC Executive Directors, with 85 responses analyzed using a variety of non-parametric statistical measures. In addition, four male and four female Directors were interviewed in depth via telephone. The survey data show that men and women in CHCs respond similarly to questions about attitudes toward and the existence of gender equity and bias. Male/female differences concerning the importance and presence of mentorship and succession planning were statistically modest, but responses indicated that women in CHCs are in fact more likely to obtain female formal and informal mentorship than men. The in-depth interviews provided more personal perspectives, including the importance of participation in after-hours social activities and other interpersonal mechanisms to improve access to influence networks and, eventually, leadership positions. The results suggest that the biggest obstacle to female advancement in CHCs (and elsewhere) may be the problems faced in attaining and maintaining a work/life balance. The research results provide a nuanced picture of the varying ways in which women discover and use a range of strategies, including mentorship and succession plans, to eradicate organizational and interpersonal barriers to advancement.

Learning Areas:
Administration, management, leadership
Diversity and culture
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the various interpersonal and organizational factors that facilitate the advancement of women into Community Center Leadership. 2. Analyze the extent to which these factors can be applied in other areas of public health.

Keywords: Community Health Centers, Leadership

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a doctoral student who has done extensive research on my presentation topic for my dissertation, including the data collection and analysis. This dissertation is the final requirement for my DHA graduation in May 2012.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.