The Monash University, MCHRI-led National initiative, Advancing Women in Healthcare Leadership (AWHL), has received funding from the NHMRC together with 17 partners. The AWHL research, implementation and impact initiative aims to advance women in healthcare leadership to progress careers, deliver gender equity and improve health outcomes.
Ultimately, AHWL is building evidence and translating this into practice to address the need for more women in leadership positions and the limitations to career progression. This vital funding enables the implementation to drive equity and change, acknowledging that the burden for change should not sit with individual women, but rather the systems and organisations in which they work.
This initiative includes an embedded national Women in Leadership Scholarship Program, with 30 women, many in rural areas, who are given an opportunity to attend Monash University’s evidence-based Women in Leadership Program for leadership development to transform careers and improve the care of our most underserved populations. The scholarship program was the brainchild of Lead Research Fellow Dr Belinda Garth, who lives in regional Victoria and is passionate about equity for rural and remote women.
The leader and Chief Investigator of the initiative, Professor Helena Teede has highlighted that there is a vital need to move beyond the problems and the barriers to meaningful, effective solutions for advancing women’s careers.
“Ultimately, this initiative leverages our expertise, extends our partnerships and delivers the most comprehensive and impactful research on women in healthcare leadership internationally. We are grateful to the NHMRC, the Government and our 17 partners for supporting it,” said Professor Teede, Director of the Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation (MCHRI).
Women continue to be underrepresented in leadership, including in healthcare, with evidence showing that greater equity and diversity in leadership, leads to more equitable healthcare, social justice and improved healthcare outcomes for women. It is also linked to improved organisational performance.
Scholarship recipient Dr Jasmine Banner, a Northern Territory-based Clinical Lead & GP Obstetrician, is thankful for the opportunity. “I’m very keen to gain experience in leadership to aid my community and team, with some like-minded women,” she said.
WHO Global Health Workforce report “Delivered by Women, Led by Men, highlights the problems this research will address.
Professor Teede said the initiative’s focus is on healthcare, a sector that employs one in every four women in the Australian workforce, but the academic and education sectors are partners here and the evidence generated will be applicable to other sectors and industries.
In AWHL’s leadership development stream, “We were inundated with applicants for our scholarship program, which shows that women want to be equipped with leadership skills, to be encouraged and supported, but have limited opportunities. This evidence-based leadership program will fill a key gap. Scholarship recipients include nurses, GPs and other health professionals, including those from diverse cultural backgrounds. Recipients are located across metropolitan, rural and remote areas from Tasmania to the Torres Strait and Northern Territory, and from across a range of health services and academia, including the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Aboriginal community-controlled health services, leading health services and other settings,” said Dr Garth.
These women have expressed their ambitions to “aid their community and team, bring kindness back as a core value in healthcare leadership, and develop skills to support and empower future culturally diverse leaders. The Leadership Development Scholarship Program focuses on the development of skills to enhance career acceleration and to enable health services transformation in partnership with communities” says Professor Teede.
The initial AWHL initiative was funded by the NHMRC in 2019 with nine partners and has now grown to a $5 million dollar national initiative with 17 partners across professional, medical and nursing colleges, industrial bodies, leading health services, government, and academia. Our evidence-based systems and tools will support scale, and provide a blueprint for Australia and internationally to advance women in healthcare leadership.