Women Hospital CEOs: Fact or Fiction a Continuation

Article excerpt


Four women hospital chief executive officers (CEOs) from two counties were surveyed as part of an expanding study to examine and compare their responses to those previously secured from women in a county where women hospital CEOs are underrepresented. Three tools were used to solicit the responses of women CEOs. The tools used were Gender and Career in Healthcare Management survey (GCHM) from the American College of Healthcare Executives, a questionnaire from Appendix C of Leadership in Healthcare: Values at the Top, assessing one's professional and personal values, and an open ended question: "What factors influenced your obtaining the position of CEO?" The study found that the two groups were similar in their networking patterns and values. The two groups differed regarding perception of satisfaction and barrier factors. The open-ended question responses reinforced the concepts identified in the transformational leadership style associated with women's leadership style.

Women rising to the top executive position in any industry are noteworthy. Healthcare is an industry dominated by women with few represented in the top executive position as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). This study is a follow-up to an earlier study, which examined the percentage of women in hospital CEO positions in three counties. Women from the county with the least CEO representation were surveyed regarding networking, satisfaction and barrier factors, and personal and professional values. In this study, the women hospital CEOs from the other two counties were asked to respond to the same surveys as the first group with the addition of an open-ended question asking, "What factors do you attribute to achieving a CEO position?" Responses from both groups are compared and discussed. A limitation of this study is the small number of women CEOs from the two counties.


Women in healthcare organizations were surveyed from 3 counties. One county, Spokane, located in the heart of the Inland Northwest in Washington State, serves as the medical hub for Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon, North Idaho, and Western Montana. Women identified as leaders in healthcare were surveyed. Initially, the first study sought only Spokane. It was expanded to include two other counties for comparison, one in Washington State and one outside the state with similar demographics to determine the percentage of women hospital CEOs. In Washington State, the other county chosen was Snohomish. The county chosen outside of Washington was Lucas County in Ohio. These counties were suggested by the Assessment Center of the Spokane Regional Health District because of similar demographics. This study compares responses from the first group and study in Spokane to those women hospital CEOs identified in Snohomish and Lucas counties.

Review of Literature

In an interview by Grazier (2006) with Teri Fontenot, President and CEO of Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the largest independently owned women's hospital in the country, Ms. Fontenot discusses the challenges she faces. She describes hospital administration as both "extremely rewarding" and" very demanding" (p. 7). When asked what advice she had for other managers and those new to the field, this was her response:

If you have a spouse or a family, make sure that they are on board with your career goals...Work for an organization that you fully commit to and that can facilitate professional growth. Look for opportunities to expand your skills and knowledge within the organization, particularly in nontraditional ways. If you want to move into a senior management position, make your interest known and volunteer for assignments. (p. 7)

Hewlett (2002) did a survey targeted at the top 10% of women in the U.S. measured in terms of earning power. The survey findings made clear

That for many women, the brutal demands of ambitious careers, the asymmetries of male-female relationships, and the difficulties of bearing children late in life conspire to crowd out the possibility of having children. …