Black History Month

Celebrating Women Of Color In The Healthcare Industry

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Black History Month

Celebrating Women Of Color In The Healthcare Industry

​The History of the Healthcare Industry & Notable Women of Color

With such a heavy focus on healthcare today due to the global pandemic, we chose to highlight notable women of color in the healthcare industry as part of our Black History Month honoring. These women persevered against tremendous racial and political odds to become established pillars in the medical field. Continue reading to learn a bit more about these amazing women as well as the diversity landscape in healthcare.

1. Rebecca Lee Crumpler

In 1864, after graduating from New England Female Medical College, she became the first African American woman physician in the United States to earn an M.D. degree. Rebecca also secured her place in the historical record with her book of medical advice for women and children, published in 1883.

Black History Month

2. Dr. Jane Cook Wright

Jane’s journey began with her father, Dr. Louis Wright, one of the first African American graduates of Harvard Medical School and New York City’s first African American police surgeon. He also established the Cancer Research Center at Harlem Hospital. He set a very high bar for Jane. In 1967, Dr. Jane Wright Cook became professor of surgery, head of the cancer chemotherapy department, associate dean at New York Medical College, and the highest-ranked African American woman at a nationally recognized medical institution.

3. Dr. Patricia Bath

Dr. Patricia Bath was the first African American woman to complete a residency in ophthalmology. She co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. In 1986, Patricia was the first African American female doctor to receive a medical patent. She also discovered and invented a new device and technique for cataract surgery known as laserphaco.

4. Dr. Mae Jemison

Mae C. Jemison is the first African American woman to travel in space. She is also a physician, professor, and entrepreneur. After completing her medical degree, she joined the space program, maintained a general practice, and served in the peace corps. After working at NASA from 1987-1993, Jemison founded Jemison Group, Inc., which developed a satellite-based telecommunications system to improve healthcare delivery in developing nations.

5. Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith

Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith has served as an associate professor of internal medicine, public health, and management at Yale University – she specializes in marginalized populations. Her experience working with marginalized communities – those who continue to be disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic – will augment the new coronavirus task force, which Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith was recently appointed to as the co-chair by President Biden.

Women In Healthcare: Is There Still A Diversity Issue?

It’s undeniable that the healthcare industry as a whole has better female representation at all job levels in comparison to other industries in the U.S. According to a 2020 study conducted by McKinsey & Co, 66 percent of women in healthcare hold entry-level positions and 59 percent hold manager-level roles. This compares to 48 percent and 38 percent in all other U.S. industries. While the percentage of women drops in more senior roles, healthcare still exceeds all other industries.

While this may feel like cause for celebration, the report goes on to say that the, “challenges that women as a whole face [in healthcare] are magnified for women of color.” By looking at the image below, we see that women of color make up 20 percent of entry-level roles, but only 5 percent at the C-suite level.

And, this lack of representation can have a ripple effect in a number of ways:

  • A lack of women of color in senior-level roles translates into fewer role models for women entering the workforce.

  • Performance. It’s been proven that companies with executive teams in the top-quartile for ethnic and cultural diversity outperformed those in the fourth quartile by 36 percent in profitability.

  • For healthcare organizations specifically, it’s crucial for staff to reflect the patients and communities they serve – having diverse representations plays a huge role in delivering on this.

At GQR, we place great emphasis on unbiased and equitable hiring practices. If you are interested in a career in healthcare and being represented by our award-winning recruitment specialist, we invite you to connect with our team.