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Top Health Inf Manage. 1992 Nov;13(2):45-55.

Professional advancement of women in health care management: a conceptual model.

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School of Allied Health Professions, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


Ragins and Sundstrom suggest three major conclusions based on power and gender differences within organizations. The first is that power develops or detracts as individuals progress along their career track. HIM professionals who accept the challenges that changing roles bring can also develop a new sensitivity to the value of power as a tool. They can use their negotiating skills to avoid being placed in work roles that result in a decrease in power. The second difference between men and women within organizations is that obstacles often impede women's career paths more than men's. Perceptions by women and men of a woman as homemaker and mother create serious conflicts when jobs are demanding and time intensive. Lastly, Ragins and Sundstrom suggest that career progression is influenced by both intrinsic factors (personal and professional) and extrinsic factors (organizational and interpersonal). The interaction between these factors is often driven by gender differences allowing men to progress and succeed, whereas women remain beneath the glass ceiling. HIM professionals, like other women health professionals, are graduating from advanced programs in health care and business administration at a greater rate than ever before in the history of this country. Not all these graduates will be able to acquire top-level administrative positions in the traditional health care institutions (e.g., hospitals). Therefore, if they wish to advance, they may have to move to nontraditional work settings. This is especially true for HIM professionals. The expanding computerized environment in traditional and nontraditional health care settings presents great potential for the development of new roles and responsibilities that have not been identified as male roles. HIM professionals and women in other health care professions who aspire to advance to upper administrative positions in traditional and nontraditional settings must be willing to take the risks inherent in assuming these changing roles and responsibilities. Successful women leaders in upper administrative positions recognize and take opportunities when they are offered and are not reluctant to assume more responsibilities and power in an organization. Lastly, if women are to move through the glass ceiling, health care institutions must become sensitized to the factors that prevent women's advancement and facilitate entry-level opportunities for women in administration. Continuing education and opportunities for mentoring and networking, combined with flexibility in work structures, will promote the integration of women at high administrative levels in health care, not only within their own professions, but in corporate health care as well.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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