European Union of Private Hospitals

Gender Equality: “Knowledge and good management should be your calling card”

JULY 2019.

By Cristina Contel, President of the Spanish Alliance of Private Health (ASPE)

Media news of June and July were marked by strikes amid public emergency rooms. Doctors and health workers denounced a major congestion of emergency rooms and warned of its consequences over their working conditions and the quality of care for patients.

What piece of advice would you give to young women who wish to embark on a management career in the health sector?
First of all, they should prepare themselves professionally with a strong education in business management in general, not necessarily applied to the health sector, but also to sectors related to science or humanities. In my opinion it is necessary to have a broad overview of the various and numerous transversal sectors that converge with the health sector: economics, law, human resources, markets analysis…
My advice to young women is: Be good professionals, without making your gender a differentiating element, neither positive nor negative. Knowledge and good management should be your calling card.
But for that, we do have to fight in order to have the same opportunities as men, on equal terms, in order to be able to demonstrate our skills, ability and professionalism.
During my entire career in the health sector, I have to say that I met many women, who would have been fully capable of holding management positions and have top-level responsibilities in the health sector, but were not given the opportunity to do so.
What should be done today to ensure that there are more women in high-level positions tomorrow in healthcare institutions?
Personally, I am against the definition of “quotas” that require the presence of a certain number of women in organizations or in positions of responsibility. I believe that the fact of being a man or a woman should not be used as a discriminating principle, neither positive nor negative. The criteria that should be used as a filter to access positions of responsibility should be education, experience and personal skills, regardless of the gender.
However, today, as machoism continues to prevail in the first levels of responsibility, preventing personal values and the professional merits necessary to access such positions to be key selection criteria, “quotas” are necessary tools to enhance the presence of women in high-level positions.
Another objective instrument in achieving this milestone would be the “blind curriculum” in which candidates applying for high-level positions would be chosen without knowing their gender, name or condition. It would be also useful to anonymize applications and focus the choice on professional qualities and skills that have nothing to do with the gender. This would also help to alleviate the negative effects of the “wage gap” that occurs between men and women under equal work conditions and responsibilities.
The creation and joint participation of a Commission on equality is also an important means to create awareness within entities. This Commission should be supported and encouraged by the Directorate, ensuring that the management of teams is carried out by people trained in the principles of equal treatment and opportunities between men and women, as well as non-discrimination. Personnel recruiters should be sensitized and trained in matters of gender equality.
But the best way to ensure the objectivity and equality of opportunities between men and women is to raise awareness and create a “culture” showing that professionalism is not gender dependent and that the choice of professionals should be based on objective criteria related to the position.