Lift up women and you lift up everyone

History was made this week. For the first time, a woman was nominated by a major party for President of the United States. Nearly 100 years after women won the right to vote and 240 years after the founding ofcanstockphoto4392904 our country, Hillary Clinton has broken this barrier. Did you hear the glass breaking? I did and it was music to my ears.

Across this country, women have proven they can do anything a man can do in any field. Yet women lag behind in pay, in executive roles and are poorly represented in fields like technology. In a longitudinal salary assessment, HIMSS found that women’s share of health IT salaries for comparable jobs is smaller than it was ten years ago. That means we are losing ground!

I’ve written and spoken about this and will continue to do so. As I was quoted in a recent article, Removing the Glass Ceiling in Health IT, we need to be open about this problem. Naming a problem is the beginning of addressing it. I could sit back quietly but I won’t. I owe it to the next generation of women, my daughters and my granddaughters to speak up. I was influenced by the women’s movement of the 1970’s, so I know that if we don’t speak up, we will never make the changes we need.

At last year’s Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, I was greeted by a 10-year-old boy with, “I thought only men were managers”. I was reminded that we still have a long way to go to teach our children that girls can do anything just like the boys.

I am from a family of strong, independent and very capable women. My mother was a widow who raised four children herself. She went to work when I was 8 years old. My sister is just a year older than me. Yes, the two of us did all the housework while our two older brothers went out and earned money.  But we also learned that we had to take care of ourselves and could do whatever we set our sights on.

Before I got into IT, I worked for the phone company in a job that was considered a man’s job. It paid far more than their typical woman’s job. I was told early on by a male co-worker that I should be home with my baby, broom in hand. That I had stolen my job from a man. In the early 80’s, starting my IT career as a programmer meant entering a profession dominated by men.

I challenge all of you to look at what you are doing to encourage women to go into STEM fields, to ensure pay equity, and to develop women leaders. When we lift up women, we lift up everyone.

As I’ve watched the Democratic National Convention this week, I have seen leaders and public servants who lift people up. They are passionate about what they do. As leaders in health care we too must encourage and lift people up. It’s our obligation as leaders. And as parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, let’s encourage our children to dream big and work hard ourselves to create a world where those dreams can come true.

14 thoughts on “Lift up women and you lift up everyone

  1. Great post! I think we came into IT at the same time, and I, too, remember how few women I worked with at that time. I’m thankful, every day, that my parents raised all of us–my sisters and brothers–to be strong and independent. As for moving forward, three cheers for progress! I had a conversation with my husband this week, and neither of us can believe that the U.S. has yet to elect a female president.

  2. David Muntz on said:

    Beautifully said. Write on. Though the sky may now be the limit, we must ensure that everyone looks up with confidence. Your encouragement via word and deed will continue to inspire us all. Thank you for your continued and very necessary attention to this important matter. A fan, David

  3. Shon Dwyer on said:

    Sue,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. As always, I appreciate your wisdom. Awareness and advocacy certainly are a first step. Changing behavior as we all know however, takes concerted effort. I too will continue to work to change the landscape for my daughter and women in general!

  4. This is a great post. My wife and I were both working and she is very accomplished, but she made the choice to stay home with the kids once they were born, against the wishes of her immigrant parents who sacrificed everything to come to America. They felt she was giving up a promising career in accounting/finance to “baby-sit” her kids. She told me that a lot of her female colleagues were willing to take on less pay, for a lighter work-load so they can have a more meaningful family life.

    Do you think that the article you reference “Removing the Glass Ceiling in Health IT” is reflective of that, especially since the CEO of UHHS was remarking on the shift in trend away from money and career and more towards a balanced life?

    I was just wondering about the challenges that you have faced between spending time with family and work, and the sacrifices that you made in this regard?

    I personally look upon any individual as a person, and never use gender, race, religion, sexuality in making any decisions. It seems to me, these are all factors that media and politicians use today to divide a country.

    • Sue Schade on said:

      Carlyle, thanks for the comments and questions. Balance seems elusive at times but we all keep at it. Both my children were in day care centers when they were just 6 weeks old. I have been in management since my youngest daughter was 2 years old. I started graduate school for my MBA three years later — one class a quarter at night over a four year period. I made the choices and knew the tradeoffs. I have an incredibly supportive husband who has always shared the work of family and home. I found ways to balance work and family best I could. At this point in my career, it’s great to be able to spend time with my adult daughters who are my good friends and my grandkids who are great fun! The good news is that employers are much more supportive of young families than early in my professional career three decades ago. But in the end, we all have to find what works and make the choices that seem right for us and our family.

  5. Point well made Sue…. We need to have more women as part of the workforce and at the leadership level. That’s when the change starts to percolate down.

    As far as IT is considered here in India, I would say we have enough women joining the workforce but lot many drop in between. The problem lies with the traditional mindset which expect women to give up their career.

    Towards that, organizations need to understand the challenges and provide more opportunities to women for continuing. For example, extended maternity leaves with assurance of last drawn job role/salary, providing more work from home options etc.

    In fact, one of our co-founders (she is a healthcare IT expert) wrote a column few months back about the skewed gender ratio. I am sure it will resonate very well with you.
    https://her.yourstory.com/manisha-kathooria-0714

    • Sue Schade on said:

      Tushar, Agree on your suggestions — organizations need to do more to support young families with an eye towards creating a more supportive environment for women to grow their careers.

  6. Sowmya on said:

    Sue,

    Very well said! So happy and lucky to have you as our leader- A true leader with a higher consciousness! Wish you can stay longer.

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